Donating platelets

Giving platelets is similar to blood donation and takes around 2 hours in total.

Watch the video to see the process.

Detailed information

Click on a category for more information about what to expect.

Before your appointment

48 hours before your giving platelets you should:

  • drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated

  • avoid fatty foods, such as fried breakfasts and takeaways, as they can affect the quality of your donation

  • avoid using ibuprofen, aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Paracetamol and codeine-based medicines are fine

  • check the latest coronavirus safety measures 

If you cannot donate, please call 0300 123 23 23 to reschedule your appointment.

Welcome and paperwork

When you arrive, we ask you to:

  • complete a health questionnaire about your medical, lifestyle and travel history

  • read some information about giving platelets

  • have a 500ml drink. It will help with your wellbeing during and after donation
A donor holds a clipboard and speaks to a member of staff
One of our regular donors, Pete, arrives at the donor centre and fills in the health questionnaire

Checking you are OK to donate

We will invite you into a private room for a health screening.

The health screening is to check it is OK for you to donate and that your platelets are safe to give to people.  

All information you share with us is confidential and we expect you to answer the questions honestly.

During the health screening we will:

  • confirm your identity

  • ask you some questions based on your answers to the health questionnaire

  • check your iron levels are high enough

  • check your pulse and veins to see if you can donate

Then you need to read and sign a consent form. This is a legal document that confirms you understand what is involved in platelet donation.

A donor carer checks a donor's pulse
A donor carer checks Pete's pulse


Donating a unit of platelets (1 bag) can take up to 90 minutes. 

We take you to a donation chair and lower it so that you are lying back slightly.

We put a cuff on your arm to maintain a small amount of pressure throughout your donation.

We clean your skin before inserting a needle into your arm. The needle is attached to a tube which goes into a platelet machine.

Your blood travels through the needle and tube and into the machine.

The machine spins your blood around to remove your platelets.

The extracted platelets are stored in a bag and the rest of your blood is returned to your body.

While you donate you can watch TV, use your phone, read a book or just relax.

We keep a close eye on you while you donate. If you feel uncomfortable or there are any problems, we stop the donation.

As red blood cells are returned back to you straight away during the donation, you can donate platelets more often than blood.

Snacks and drinks are available throughout your donation.

A donor uses his phone while he donates
Pete relaxes while he donates

After you donate

After you have donated the needle is removed, and a dressing is put on your arm.

We slowly raise the donation chair to an upright position to allow your body to adjust. We give you a card of post-donation advice and explain it to you.

A donor carer removes a needle from Pete's arm
A donor carer removes the needle from Pete's arm

Book your next appointment

After a short rest you are ready to go. Remember, it doesn’t take long to recover after giving platelets. Your body replaces platelets quickly, usually within 48 hours.

Don’t forget to book your next appointment at the desk before you leave.

Pete holds two bags of his platelets
Pete with his platelets

Staying well after your donation

Your body replaces platelets quickly, usually within 48 hours.

Tips to stay well after your donation:

  • eat and drink

  • keep the pressure dressing on your arm for about 30 minutes, and the plaster on for 6 hours

  • avoid using your donation arm to carry anything very heavy for the rest of the day

  • avoid having a hot bath after you have given platelets

  • avoid heavy exercise on the day you donate

If you become unwell (other than a cold or cold sore) within 2 weeks of donating, or if you think there is a reason your platelets should not be given to a patient, please call us on 0300 123 23 23.