Do you ever wonder what makes the trillions of cells coursing through your veins so vital to everyday life? The components of blood—red blood cells, platelets and plasma—truly are wondrous; each has a specific, life-sustaining job.
Special technology allows us to collect these amazing blood components from donors to best match patient needs. Your donation helps build better tomorrows for those who need it. Here's how:

  • Red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of the body. They are needed most for patients who have experienced significant blood loss from trauma, or for patients undergoing surgery or battling anemia.
  • Platelets are essential for blood clotting and, with a shelf life of only five days, are routinely needed to support cancer therapy, open-heart surgery, blood disorders and organ transplants.
  • Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood and is used to treat patients in shock and those with severe burns and clotting disorders.
Whole Blood

This is the most universal term for blood donation and is offered at all Vitalant donation centers and blood drives. During whole blood donation, we collect roughly one pint of blood. It is then typed and tested using our state-of-the-art technology. Your life-transforming gift is then processed, the components are separated and stored in individual bags and sent for patient transfusion. That’s why one donation can help up to three patients.


An apheresis donation is a specialized process that allows Vitalant to collect only specific blood components from our donors using a machine that separates and collects red blood cells, platelets or plasma (or a combination of one or more). The remaining components are safely returned to the donor. All blood donors can make apheresis donations if they meet certain criteria.  


While apheresis donation takes a little more of your time in the chair (from 30 minutes up to two hours), it allows you to maximize your lifesaving effort by giving hospitals the resources they need to provide the right transfusion for the right patient. That is a great way to make the most out of every moment you spend giving blood.