This is a basic question that comes up time and time again. Most of the hard work involved with the collection has already been taken care of by the doctor or nurse caring for you, leaving this step to your own initiative as it should be. But here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a disposable blood tube. Some people swear by thick gauge plastic tubes but prefer not to use them because they "feel" either so thick (or thus "heavy") or come off so easily. But the reality is that disposable plastic blood tubes are a snap to use, and they give you nearly unlimited options as far as what size, style, and gauge tube will best suit your needs. The choice depends on individual preference more than anything else. If one brand does not seem like it would be right for you, then try another brand in different styles until something works for you. Most of these tubes hold around 3-10 cc's (fifth or half an ounce) and are disposable.
No blood is drawn in the traditional sense when you go to donate at Blood, Tissue, and Organs Inc. (BTOP), which means that we always try to use a home Blood Collection Tube in place of needles and syringes whenever possible. Blood collected with tubes then goes into sterile syringes for processing by our laboratories, which take an additional layer of safety measures. It would be far less susceptible to contamination if done outside the hospital setting. The reason for this is simple; blood has to be sterile prior to building the transfusion and then again when performing tests in our lab. The fact is, it only takes a minuscule amount of perfectly clean contaminated blood to have everyone potentially exposed compromised.
The reason that consideration has been given in the past towards collecting blood with tubes rather than needles entirely centers around how much your own body already holds before you are even allowed to donate at all. At BTOP, each donor receives a comprehensive questionnaire that includes questions asking specifically whether they use tobacco or anything else to assist in the blood donation and questions concerning their medical history. The previous history of hypertension comes up quickly during reference checks and is one concern we are often aware of before runners turn in their shoe track totals at races, or other donors have ever completed an actual marathon (that's right, there aren't that many long-distance 5K racers at BTOP). All of this data is compiled during the blood donor assessment process before you are even considered eligible to be offered a specific type of donation.