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You may have heard the term Power Red or Power Red blood donation being tossed around, or even received requests from Vitalant to donate a Power Red. What exactly is this so-called Power Red blood donation, and what makes it “powerful”? Is it pumped up on steroids??

Of course not! The “power” in a Power Red comes from the concentrated dose of your red blood cells that is collected during this type of donation. You also may have heard a Power Red blood donation referred to as a double red donation, because about twice as many red blood cells are collected.

This concentrated dose can help twice as many patients. A Power Red also helps pump up the blood supply because it’s like giving two blood donations in one appointment.

How Does a Power Red Help Patients?

Power Red donations are especially helpful to newborn babies and pediatric patients, trauma or surgery patients, sickle cell patients and people with anemia. Red blood cells are the most commonly transfused part of the blood for these types of patients.

Your Power Red donation provides two doses of the red blood cells in highest demand and can even be given to one patient who otherwise would get transfusions from different donors. Recommended blood types for giving a Power Red are type O, A-negative and B-negative. Type O red blood cells can be given to most patients in an emergency, and A-negative and B-negative units are always in short supply!

Why Should I Donate a Power Red?

A Power Red blood donation offers “perks” for the blood donor as well. If you find it hard to squeeze blood donation into your busy schedule, a Power Red is a time-saver. While the donation itself takes about 30 minutes longer than a whole blood donation, you can only donate a Power Red every 112 days, up to three times a year. (Because more of your oxygen-carrying red blood cells are removed during the process, your body needs more time to replenish those cells.)

At the maximum, you can give six units of whole blood a year if you faithfully donate every 56 days. By donating Power Red, you could contribute the same amount in three donations. While we love to see your smiling face in our donor chair, we also want what’s best for you and hospital patients.

Another perk: Your red cells are collected using a special apheresis machine, and your platelets and plasma are returned to your body, along with a saline solution. The added saline may make you feel less fatigued and even refreshed after giving a Power Red. Because more than half of your blood is liquid, it’s easy to see why replacing that fluid may perk you up.

Last but not least, Power Red donations use a smaller needle than a whole blood donation!

Who Can Donate a Power Red?

Here’s where it gets a little tricky. In addition to meeting basic eligibility requirements, Power Red donors have higher weight, height and hemoglobin requirements for donors’ safety.

In general, males must be taller than 5’1” and weigh more than 130 pounds. Females must be taller than 5’5” and weigh more than 150 pounds. Both genders must have hemoglobin levels greater than 13.3 g/dL and hematocrit greater than 40%.

BUT these minimums are for the machines Vitalant uses at mobile blood drives. We use different machines at our donation centers, so the required hemoglobin levels are slightly different. Ultimately, your total blood volume, which is based on height, weight and gender, determines your eligibility.

Don’t worry about knowing your levels, or even understanding what hemoglobin and hematocrit are. We’ll measure them at your appointment and figure out if you are a good candidate to donate a Power Red. And if you can’t, no problem. You can always give a regular blood donation if you don’t meet the additional requirements.

All blood donations help save lives, and that’s what it’s all about! Schedule your appointment now.

Published by: Taitia S. – Vitalant Contributor