Which should I donate: blood, plasma or platelets?
August 17, 2021 6:17 PM   Subscribe

I have donated blood (A+) a few times in the past year, and plan to continue doing so regularly. But I could just as easily donate plasma or platelets. Which of these products tends to be needed more? (This is all at a nonprofit; I am not looking for money.)
posted by NotLost to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I usually just ask them on the day which one they need most. O types are often best for red cells and AB for plasma, but as an A their needs for you may vary.
posted by exceptinsects at 6:24 PM on August 17, 2021 [3 favorites]

Depending on your location, there may be opportunities to donate mobilized blood-forming cells. I recently tried to sign up for this, but because of my health history wasn't able to do so. It's a more time-consuming process and involves taking meds that stimulate your blood-forming cells.
posted by QuakerMel at 6:42 PM on August 17, 2021

Best answer: I donated platelets every other Tuesday for a good year solid, and it made me feel really good about helping others. It look a longer time -- 90 minutes -- but at the time I didn't mind. (Now I have kids, you see, and don't live anywhere near that hospital...)

You can ask the blood center what product they need ahead of time, but they need to prep the right supplies and machine so IME it can't realistically be a "game-time decision."
posted by wenestvedt at 7:35 PM on August 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The next time you go in, tell them that you're interested in being a plasma or platelet donor - they'll check your blood and see if it meets their qualifications. I was a whole blood donor; they ran some tests on me and asked if I'd be interested in trying platelet donations. Once I successfully did a platelet donation, that's all they called me for.

Also, if your iron is low, Trader Joe's dark chocolate is surprisingly high in iron per serving, and is delicious.
posted by mogget at 8:52 PM on August 17, 2021 [4 favorites]

The blood center I used to go to would always hit everyone up for platelets, I was always happy to comply. I'm not allowed to donate blood anymore due to meds, but I'd like to thank everyone here who does donate, you're all lifesavers!
posted by Marky at 10:54 PM on August 17, 2021 [3 favorites]

To bring this from theoretical to practical, it may not be possible for 'one' to donate platelets locally - there are only two clinics in Ireland which have the facilities. As wenestvedt notes, it requires a longer time commitment. Also one may not be eligible if they are or have ever been pregnant. I [autopub alert] found this-all out on foot of a question from one of my students. The utility is the product is harder to compute than the access hurdle-height?
Echoing Marky in thanking you for your service.
posted by BobTheScientist at 11:52 PM on August 17, 2021

Best answer: Agree that the folks working your blood donor center will know best, but my local blood place recommends platelets or whole blood for A+ donations.
posted by gueneverey at 6:18 AM on August 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

The one drawback I found to donating platelets regularly is that the blood center gave me all the thank-you gifts they had, and because they were planning for an eight-week cycle, I ended up with duplicates (many of which I graciously declined).

For example, I used to have four mugs that revealed a message when hot coffee/tea was added, two baseball hats, two pairs of comfy shorts, and a couple of umbrellas. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:16 AM on August 18, 2021

I do weekly plasma infusions for an immune condition and there has been a lot of discussion in the affinity group and medical groups about a potential shortage as plasma also has uses in treating COVID. So I vote plasma... only partially based on self interest! :) But in all sincerity, whatever you choose to donate, thanks for doing it.
posted by jeszac at 10:33 AM on August 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers. Apparently, all I need to do is ask about for future appointments.
posted by NotLost at 11:56 AM on August 22, 2021

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