Differences Between Apheresis and Homologous Blood Donations

Not everyone might be best suited for just the regular (homologous) blood donation of a pint of whole blood. In fact, depending on your health and other characteristics about yourself, you might be able to save lives in a more specific way with an apheresis-style blood donation.

A phlebotomist monitors platelet donations.

Part of my job as a Conversational Marketing™ Expert (CME) at Incept is to not only recruit blood donors to donate whole blood, but donate red cells, platelets, and plasma too. Many of the people I talk to who have donated whole blood have never tried donating one of those specific components, so they might not be as familiar with the process. With that in mind, I wanted to provide other blood donor recruitment professionals out there with a small list of comparisons I like to make to whole blood, as well as other benefits of donating an apheresis donation.

It really isn’t too much different from a whole blood donation…

  • You are helping out your blood center with specific blood type-based needs when you make an apheresis donation.
  • If you are donating red cells (commonly known as donating “double reds”),  you donate less often but can impact more people than just a single whole blood donation.
  • If you are donating platelets, you are helping the blood center receive an immediate and full donation. They would otherwise have to wait on approximately eight whole blood donations to have enough platelets to centrifuge to make up just one full platelet donation.
  • You donate less often with a red cell donation – once every 112 days – as opposed to once every 56 days with a whole blood donation.
  • You can donate more often, if you so choose, when you donate platelets. While platelets can be donated safely once every seven days, most medical professionals will suggest that people try to limit platelet donations to no more than 26 times per year, but it is that safe to do it if you qualify!
  • When you donate red cells, you are specifically helping out folks who are undergoing surgeries and everyday trauma situations.
  • When you donate platelets, you help out folks with weakened immune systems, as well as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
  • You typically feel much more hydrated when you leave, as they give your body saline during the return process of your other blood components.
  • You actually get a smaller needle, so, believe it or not, it might be more comfortable to donate!

Once again, these are here for the reference of other people in the blood donor recruitment industry. Feel free to use these in your efforts to educate and encourage others to donate.

Many people are willing to listen to the reasons you are asking them to do a specific type of blood donation, but it is up to you to convey to them the importance of their blood type and where their donation is going.


You are an O+ blood donor, so that actually makes you a great candidate for platelets! Since O+ tends to be the most common blood type, we do use it frequently as well. With platelets having a shelf life of only five days, on top of that, we could really use your help, since many folks don’t donate enough as it is. These platelets help people who don’t have strong immune systems and many people in the local area undergoing chemotherapy to battle their cancers.

The above example is just one way to explain things to a donor who you are trying to convert. Remember to make them feel good about donating their specific type of blood and component to make it a bigger impact on them.