Types of Blood Donations
4 Ways to Save Lives

The need for blood products in our community is constantly changing. As a donor, giving the “right” type of blood donation – based on your blood type and patient needs – helps ensure the best use of your valuable contribution. 

SunCoast Blood Centers provides donors with several methods of donating blood and blood products. Keep in mind, the process can vary based on the type of donation.

Whole Blood

When most people think of “donating blood,” they think of whole blood donation. When you donate whole blood, approximately one pint of blood is taken. After it leaves your arm, it is separated into components by SunCoast staff. Components 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. 


In a platelet donation, an apheresis machine collects your platelets along with some plasma, returning your red cells and most of the plasma back to you. Platelets help control bleeding and are used by many people, such as cancer and transplant patients, burn victims and those facing life-threatening illnesses and injuries.

Double Red Cell

Double red cell blood donation allows you to give twice the red cells in half the time. Using the same apheresis technology that collects platelets, 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. 


Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood that carries clotting factors and proteins. Plasma is collected through an automated process that separates plasma from other blood components, then safely and comfortably returns your red blood cells and platelets to you. The donation process takes only a few minutes more than whole blood. Plasma is used in emergency and trauma situations to help stop bleeding.