How Donors Help Even More With Red Cell Donations

This blog comes to us from Incept Coach and Team Captain Angel Kemp.

“I want to help.”  This is the most common answer to the question, “Why do you donate blood?”

Everyone wants to be able to help others, whether it is because they have been helped themselves and want to help others in need, or because they genuinely care for the well-being of others. Sometimes, however, this can be a very difficult thing to do, because life is busy. You may want to help out in any way possible but are hindered due to a lack of resources, time, money, means to travel, etc.

Time is a precious thing in life and practically regulates every part of life, so we know that time is of the essence. If you do have roadblocks keeping you from doing the volunteer work you have always wanted to do, you can make a huge time-saving impact in the world of donating blood: a double red cell donor conversion. Most donors are familiar with the normal whole blood donations made, but did you know that you can do more for your community by spending just 20 minutes longer in the donor chair?

Let us chat a moment about the double red cell donation. This type of donation is called an apheresis donation meaning that we are taking individual blood components instead of them all. The main differences for this type of blood donation is that it does take a little longer – remember, it is only 20 minutes – and we just take the red cells. Hospitals have a need for red cells for multiple reasons.

Firstly, the red cells are the most often used part of the blood, and they carry oxygen throughout our bodies via our blood stream. Whenever a person is undergoing a surgery or had an accident and found themselves in the emergency room, they need the red cells in their blood to keep all organs and tissues properly functioning. This way the doctors and surgeons can focus on fixing the problem.

Next, there is less of a chance for a recipient to have a negative reaction from a transfusion if they are receiving blood from one to two donors versus several. When giving a red cell donation, you are giving two units of red cells that can be transfused to recipients! With a whole blood donation hospitals are only getting a small amount of red cells, along with platelets and plasma. And a red cell transfusion, on average, requires 2.7 units!

Lastly, it saves our donors time! Yes, it takes a  little bit longer, but since you are giving away twice as many red cells, you have a deferral time of 16 weeks instead of 8! When doing the double red cell donation, you come in half as often as you would if you did the whole blood!

Next time you hear of an apheresis or double red cell donation, take a second to think of the time you could save in the long run and the bigger impact you will have on patients’ lives in your area!