Most people who give blood donate what we call "whole blood," meaning all of the components of blood are collected in a single bag to be separated in our component production lab. (The components of blood are Red Blood Cells, Platelets, Plasma and White Blood Cells.)
In addition to whole blood donation, there are ways to donate specific components, such as platelets or a double unit of red cells. In contrast to whole blood donation, this type of donation allows the donor to give only the desired component and have the remaining blood components return to their body during the donation process. This happens through a process called apheresis (see picture below), a Greek word meaning "a taking away." (Because the process of separating the components is handled by a small machine at the side of the donor, this type of donation is also referred as "automation.")
Use the links below to learn about the different types of blood donation and eligibility requirements.