(HealthDay News) -- Donating blood for the first time may sound intimidating. But the process is fairly painless, takes only about 20 minutes and could help save a life.
The American Red Cross explains the different types of blood donation:
- Whole blood -- The most common and quickest type of donation, involving a pint of whole blood. The donation is typically separated into transfusable components, including red cells, plasma and platelets.
- Red cells -- Red blood cells are the most frequently transfused part of blood. In this type of collection, only the red blood cells are collected and most of the platelets and plasma are returned to the donor.
- Platelet -- Platelet donations take longer than whole-blood donations. During this procedure, an apheresis machine collects platelets and returns red cells and the majority of the plasma back to the donor. Platelets are an important part of some cancer treatments and organ donation.
- Plasma -- For this type of donation, only plasma is collected. Red cells and platelets are returned to the donor.