Whole blood donation and plasma donation meet very different needs in the community and medical world. Donating whole blood involves the collection of red blood cells, in addition to plasma and platelets. Whole blood donors can only donate one pint of blood every 56 days in accordance with FDA guidelines.
Donating plasma involves removing and keeping the liquid component of blood while returning the red blood cells and other blood components back to the donor’s body using a specialized process called plasmapheresis. The process of donating plasma does take longer (usually 30-50 minutes depending on the height and weight of the donor) because blood components must be separated and returned to the body. This is why donors are capable of donating more frequently - plasma donors can donate as often as twice a week (but not two days in a row). Learn more about plasmapheresis.