Inside the Blood Donation Process – Step Three (Option 3)

donating double red cells

Step Three: Donating Double Red Cells

Moving forward with Inside Indiana Blood Center’s Donation Process mini-series, we would like to share an additional donation option —donating double red cells.

At Indiana Blood Center, you have a choice of donating whole blood, platelets, double red cells, or plasma. One double red cell donation results in twice as many red cells as a typical whole blood donation. Red cells transport oxygen to body cells, remove carbon dioxide, and contain iron in the hemoglobin.


  • From start to finish the double red cell donation process takes about 60 minutes.
  • A donor can donate double red cells every 112 days.
  • Eligibility for donating double red cells is based on the donor’s hemoglobin and total blood volume, which is calculated using donor’s height, weight, and gender.
  • A double red cell donation can be made at all Indiana Blood Center donor centers and at some mobile drives.

Phlebotomy (process of drawing blood)
You will start by relaxing in a comfortable, reclining chair while a blood technician prepares to draw your red cells. Before your red cells are collected, it is important to determine which arm is best to use. If you think one side will prove to be more effective, feel free to share this information with your 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 your vein to distend 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, sterile 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 40mL of blood. The remainder of your blood donation will continue along the tubing into the collection bag.

To collect double red cells, 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 red blood cells are separated and collected in the blood bag, most of the platelets and plasma are returned to your body along with some saline to balance your fluids.

Well done! What a simple way to give back twofold.

Stay connected next week for more information on Step Four: Refresh (the last and final step of Indiana Blood Center’s donation process). In the meantime, visit to schedule an appointment to Raise Your Sleeve.

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