Types of Donations

Whether you're donating whole blood, platelets, or double red cells, your donation is thicker than water.

We Are Blood needs 200 blood donations per day in order to maintain a safe and healthy blood supply. Not all blood donations are the same, and often times we have an increased need for one type over the other. Are you our missing type?

Whole Blood Donations

When most people think of “donating blood” they think of whole blood donation. When you donate whole blood approximately a pint of blood is taken. After it leaves your arm, it is separated into components by We Are Blood staff. Components that are transfused to local patients like red cells, plasma, and platelets.

Whole blood donation takes 45 minutes to an hour from arrival to walking out our front doors. The actual donation only takes around 15 minutes. You can donate whole blood every 56 days.

Platelet Donations

Platelets are the type of blood cell that allows our bodies to form clots–they essentially help people control their bleeding. Many patients across Central Texas, especially burn victims, premature babies, organ transplant recipients, and accident victims, rely on platelet donations for recovery. Many people undergoing cancer treatment need frequent and regular platelet transfusions.

Platelets are incredibly special because they are constantly needed by patients across our community, but they are very hard for us to keep on our shelves because of a short shelf life. Whole blood donations last up to 42 days, but platelet donations expire after only seven. This means we really rely on frequent, regular platelet donors, just like many patients rely on frequent, regular platelet transfusions.

Platelets are collected using a machine called apheresis (ay-fur-ee-sis), which is a technology that allows a donor to give a specific blood component (such as platelets, plasma, or red cells). Apheresis machines allow our phlebotomists to collect only the needed blood components. While collecting your platelets, the automated machine is able to return all other blood components to your body. This process results in a smoother recovery period, but a slightly longer donation process.

Whereas whole blood donations take approximately 45-60 minutes, platelet donations can take between two to three hours to complete. We Are Blood knows that this can be a significant portion of your day, but we try to make the donation as easy as possible. We have television, movies, music and WiFi to keep you occupied.

The best thing about being a platelet donor? You can do it every 7 days!

Double Red Cell

Red cell blood donation allows you to give twice the red cells in half the time. Using the same apheresis technology mentioned above, red blood cells are drawn while the rest of your blood components are returned to your body. Red blood cells are the component most frequently transfused to patients at our local hospitals because they carry oxygen to all parts of the body. Surgery patients, severe accident victims, cancer patients, and patients with anemia are common recipients of red cell transfusions.

Red cells can be donated every 16 weeks, and they only take 35 minutes to complete, so it’s not much longer than a standard whole blood donation – from arrival, you’ll be in and out in a little over an hour in most cases. During a donation, red blood cells are separated and removed from the other whole blood components. The separated whole blood components are then returned to the donor.

Requirements for a Double Red Cell  donation

  • Men: 5ʹ1ʺ, at least 130 lbs
  • Women: 5ʹ5ʺ, at least 150 lbs
  • Preferred Types: O‐, O+, A‐, B


Autologous donations are arranged by your attending physician and are handled by appointment only. Autologous donations are donations that individuals give for their own use. For example, if you have a surgery coming up, you may donate your own blood that would be transfused back to you during your surgery.

Blood Type FAQs

What are the different types of blood?

There are eight blood types, which are determined by the presence or absence of antigens, or substances that can trigger an immune response if they are foreign to the human body. Your blood type refers to the presence or absence of three antigens: A antigen, B antigen, and the Rh factor antigen.

Because foreign antigens could trigger a patient's immune system to attack transfused blood, safe blood transfusions depend on careful blood typing and cross-matching. Below is a chart that breaks down who you can donate blood to, and receive blood from, based on your blood type.

Your blood type You can give blood to: You can receive blood from:
A+ A+ AB+ A+ A- O+ O-
O+ O+ A+ B+ AB+ O+ O-
B+ B+ AB+ B+ B- O+ O-
AB+ AB+ Everyone
A- A+ A- AB+ AB- A- O-
O- Everyone O-
B- B+ B- AB+ AB- B- O-
AB- AB+ AB- AB- A- B- O-

What if I don’t know my blood type?

Donating blood is a great way to find out your blood type!

What blood type is the “universal donor”?

O negative is the universal donor for red blood cells. AB positive is the universal donor for plasma.

Best Donation For Your Type

“What’s the best donation for my blood type” is one of the most common questions we get asked, and the answer… can vary!

In reality, our community’s needs can change on a daily basis. If you’d like to make sure you’re making the biggest impact with your donation, feel free to ask what we need the most when you schedule your appointment or walk-in.

We can generally predict what the answer might be, though. O Negative and O Positive donors will most likely be recruited to be whole blood donors (O Negative is the universal donor type) and A+, B+, AB+ & AB- donors are most commonly recruited as platelet donors. Again — the need for each type changes on a daily basis — so, this break down is a nice reference to have, but it’s not written in stone!

Blood Type % of Population (US) Best Donations For Type
A+ 34% Platelets
Liquid Plasma
A- 6% Whole Blood
Double Red Cells
B+ 9% Platelets
B- 2% Whole Blood
Double Red Cells
O+ 38% Whole Blood
Double Red Cells
O- 7% Whole Blood
Double Red Cells
AB+ 3% Platelets
AB- 1% Platelets