Inside the Blood Donation Process – Step Three (Option 2)


Step Three: Donating Platelets

As we continue with the Inside Indiana Blood Center’s Donation Process mini-series, we would like to share with you another donation option – donating platelets.

At Indiana Blood Center, you have a choice of donating whole blood, platelets, double red cells, or plasma. Platelets (the yellow stuff in your blood) are small cell fragments in the blood that help control bleeding. They are needed by many types of patients, including those undergoing cancer treatments, bone marrow or organ transplants, trauma procedures or open heart surgeries.


  • From start to finish the process of donating platelets takes about one and half to two hours.
  • You can donate platelets every seven days.
  • The shelf-life of platelets is five days and therefore, the need for platelets is constant.
  • Platelets can be donated at all Indiana Blood Center donor centers and on our platelet bus.

Phlebotomy (process of drawing blood)
You will start by relaxing in a comfortable, reclining chair while a blood technician prepares to draw your platelets. Before your platelets are collected, it is important to determine which arm is best to use. If you think one side is will prove to be more effective feel free to share this information with you blood technician. Having identified the best suited arm, the blood technician will clean the site for 30 seconds with an antiseptic. He/she will then apply a blood pressure cuff, or tourniquet, to cause the vein to project in preparation for drawing blood (you may also be asked to squeeze your hand to increase pressure in the vein to optimize the process). A single-use needle attached to sterile tubing and a collection bag will be used for phlebotomy.

The first part of your blood donation will flow through the tubing into a small bag called a diversion pouch. Any bacteria still present after application of antiseptic will flow with the blood to the diversion pouch. The diversion pouch also collects enough blood to provide samples for required testing for infectious diseases and to confirm blood type. The diversion pouch collects about 25mL of blood. The remainder of your blood donation will continue along the tubing into the collection bag.

To collect platelets, your whole blood must be separated into its four components. Indiana Blood Center uses a process called apheresis to separate whole blood into its platelets, plasma, white blood cells and red blood cells components. The machine used then collects the components based on your physiology and blood count. Once the platelets are separated and collected in the blood bag, the plasma and red blood cells are returned to your body along with some saline to balance your fluids.

That’s a wrap. Feels good. How simple it was to donate.

Stay connected next week for more information on Step Three: Donation (Double Red Cells). In the meantime, visit to schedule an appointment to Raise Your Sleeve.

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