Blood Types and Platelets — What’s the Difference?
Platelet donation is essential for the survival of cancer, trauma, transplant, and burn patients. Everyone has platelets. Your platelets are small, colorless stem cell fragments that travel throughout your body and help form clots to stop bleeding. Platelets act as a bandage to plug the wound and stop blood loss.
But why are some blood types better for platelet donations?
Whether or not you should donate platelets really comes down to your blood type.
The universal blood type for platelet transfusions is AB positive (AB+). One of the rarest of all blood types, only 3% of the population has this special blood type. Platelets from AB positive donors can be used for any patient in need. Therefore, those with this rare blood type should definitely consider donating platelets.
On the other end of the blood spectrum, O-negative donors are strongly discouraged from giving platelets. The red blood cells from O- blood donors can be transfused into any patient needing blood.
Emergency Room physicians use O negative in trauma situations when the patient's blood type is unknown. Just as AB+ is the universal blood type for platelets, O neg is the universal blood type for red cells. Just 7% of the population has O- blood, so that's why O- donors should always give red blood cells.
People with A+, B+, AB-, AB+ and O+ blood types should consider donating platelets for optimum compatibility with the largest number of recipients. Platelet donors can donate once every 7 days, up to 24 times a year.
At OneBlood, you can donate platelets at any OneBlood Donor Center. Appointments are highly recommended for platelet donations.
Check out our blog series on platelets to learn more.