If you’ve been a blood donor for a while – the term “double red cell donor” may be familiar. But we sometimes forget that many in our community don’t know what the heck that means. So here’s an attempt to explain – and hopefully recruit a few more double givers.
First about red cells. More than 69% of all transfusions require this precious product. Red cells carry hemoglobin and oxygen throughout the body. Anemic patients, transplant patients, heart surgery patients or accident and trauma patients need red cells, usually in multiple units.
Now about the procedure. A double red cell donation is automated. And unlike traditional whole blood donations, a double red cell donation allows you to safely give two units of red cells, instead of just one. So basically, you’re giving more of a product that is needed. First, blood is drawn and then separated into components. The red cells are collected — enough for two units — and the rest of the components are safely returned to the donor. The procedure takes about 20 minutes longer than a whole blood donation – but you give double red cells only every four months (as opposed to every 56 days for whole blood donations).
Who can give double? There are certain height and weight standards to meet: Men must weigh at least 130 lbs and be 5’1″ or taller. Women must weigh at least 150 lbs and be 5’5″ or taller. If you are a whole blood donor and would like to know more about giving double reds, your phlebotomist can answer your questions and let you know if you’re eligible.