Every two seconds, someone needs blood. And every patient is different.
While someone being treated for leukemia may need platelets, burn victims frequently need plasma. Red blood cells can mean the difference between life and death for a premature baby.
Produced in the bone marrow, blood is typically collected as “whole blood” and then separated into its unique components: platelets, red cells, and plasma. Each can deliver a lifesaving benefit to someone in need.
These components can also be made as separate donations. Platelets, red cell, and plasma-only donations are made using a specialized process, much like a whole blood donation — it just takes a little longer. This means you can give more of the type of component that your blood type is most used for.
There is no substitute for blood. Blood components cannot be synthetically made and can only come from volunteer donors. It’s the blood on the shelves today that saves lives — which is why donors are needed to give regularly so that there is enough blood when a disaster or crisis occurs.
Often abbreviated ABO, blood types are inherited and fall into four groups or types: O, A, B, AB. Each blood type also is identified as either Rh positive or negative (the Rh factor being an inherited blood group on red blood cells).
Approximately 85% of the U.S. population is Rh-positive (i.e.,O+, A+, B+, AB+). Those who do not have the Rh factor are Rh-negative (O-, A-, B-, AB-) and are less common. Donors and recipients must be safely matched by blood types.