Whole blood is the type of donation most people think of when donating blood. One unit (about one pint) of whole blood is collected during this donation, containing the three essential components of blood: red cells, plasma, and platelets.
All blood types are needed for whole blood donation. Type O donors are in high demand for whole blood and double red cell donation, especially O- donors. O- donors are universal red cell donors, meaning their donations can be used for anyone in need, regardless of the recipient's blood type.
Whole blood donation FAQ
- Why donate whole blood?
Whole blood contains all three essential components of blood: platelets, red cells, and plasma. Each component plays a vital role in saving and sustaining a variety of patients at the local hospitals that Memorial Blood Centers serves, from premature babies to trauma victims.
There is no substitute for donated blood; blood cannot be synthetically made like many other medical supplies. Only volunteer donors can help save lives through blood donation.
- Am I eligible?
Review eligibility guidelines to check if you're eligible to donate whole blood. You may be eligible if you are:
In good health
17 years or older—16 with written parental consent (PDF)
At least 110 pounds
Free of antibiotics for 24 hours, unless taken for preventative reasons
Symptom-free for at least 72 hours following a cold or flu
If you aren't sure if you're eligible, please contact us at 1-888-GIVE-BLD (888-448-3253) and let us confidentially help you determine eligibility. Many people think that if they were deferred or ineligible in the past, they're no longer able to donate—but that's not necessarily the case! Eligibility requirements change over time, and there are some misconceptions about what makes someone ineligible. We can help!
- How long does a donation take?
From check-in to cookies, a whole blood donation takes approximately 1 hour. The time spent actually donating is 15 minutes or less.
- How often can I donate whole blood?
Whole blood can be donated every 56 days (approximately every 8 weeks). Memorial Blood Centers recommends donating whole blood once per season (3–4 times per year).