Double red blood cell donation

I’m somewhat of a regular blood donor. Although 2017 was a bit of a wash with my iron levels dropping below minimum to donate. However, I went on the 16th to donate with and was eligible to do a double red blood cell donation with an apheresis machine.

What happens in double red blood cell donation?

So basically, what happens with double red blood cell donation is that it takes a little longer than a regular whole blood donation, about 15-20 minutes longer.  But it’s touted as more beneficial for both the donor and recipient.  I couldn’t find much info to back this claim, but I’ll take their word for it. I’ll assume that they have no reason to make this up on the fly.

So, you get hooked up to a needle, like the one for whole blood donation, but the tubing is a little different.  This tubing goes to the apheresis machine, and some saline solution.  The blood is drawn and the apheresis machine then starts taking your blood and separates it into platelets, plasma, and red blood cells.

The red blood cells are the ones that carry the proteins that make the blood a certain type, like O+ or AB-. And they’re able to take twice as much from you than with whole blood, without dehydrating you to no end, as the plasma and platelets are returned with some saline water.


The whole experience was not much different than regular blood donation, though it did leave a slight metallic taste in the back of my mouth that lasted for like 10 – 15 minutes.  You can’t donate for 16 weeks (as opposed to 8). Which is fine by me. It gives me more time to recover between donations, and I get less calls that it’s time to donate again, because their records show that I am not due to donate anytime soon.

For more information or to schedule blood donation, please visit The Red Cross.


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