Donating blood vs blood products
When it comes to donating blood, it is a very noble thing to do. There is a big difference, though, between donating blood or blood products (plasma or platelets).
According to the American Red Cross you will be asked to show your ID and it will be about an eight to ten minute process to donate your blood. The entire process actually takes about an hour from when you walk in the door to when you walk out. Everything upon entry is sterilized and cleaned, so there is no fear of actually getting sick from the equipment. After a pint of blood is drawn, you will be offered drinks and a snack in order to mitigate any after effects. You will then be allowed to leave 10-15 minutes after the process and go about your normal routine. You might need to stay longer until any ill feelings subside. There is no need to be afraid of the process and it will leave you feeling very rewarded that you just helped someone in need.
Blood products are different than donating whole blood, but the process is relatively similar. Platelets are one type of blood product that can be donated. The Red Cross says platelets are tiny cells in your blood that form clots that stop you from bleeding. A majority of people that require platelet donations are cancer patients and those with other life-threatening illnesses. The entire process lasts about 2.5-3 hours. These are trickier to harvest than blood. One platelet donation can actually bring in a large quantity of transferable units, which is much larger than one blood donation. This is a longer process due to the nature of platelets and how small they are.
Plasma is the other type of blood product that you can donate other than blood. According to the Red Cross, it takes about 60 to 90 minutes to complete the process. Plasma is very important and useful and it doesn't matter what blood type you have. Plasma is compatible with any blood type. While the donation time is shorter than platelets, you still give away some of your plasma during a platelet donation unintentionally. Plasma is used in traumatic situations in order to help stop heavy bleeding.
It is a good thing to know about the different donation options. It is a great way to donate for a good cause and it is very safe to do so.