In our ongoing efforts to inform hemochromatosis patients in the maintenance phase of their treatment that they may be eligible to donate their blood, we have been providing readers of our newsletter, “Iron Filings”, e-newsletter, “The Magnet” and blog with informative articles from Canadian Blood Services. We are pleased to provide you with the latest article.
Vein to vein: A look at blood from donor to recipient
For many blood donors, it can be difficult to fully grasp where blood actually goes following the donation. You may have heard the standard message, ‘one blood donation can save up to three lives,’ but perhaps you don’t know how or why that happens. To help explain, here’s an overview of what happens after you donate blood.
Tried, tested, and true
The first step is testing. Every time you donate blood, you first bleed into a small pouch connected to your larger donation bag. That small pouch collects about 50 ml of blood, which is transferred into six test tubes for inspection at one of Canadian Blood Services’ three testing centres across the country.
There, your blood donation is tested for infectious diseases such as Hepatitis B and C, HIV I and II, and Syphilis. Once your donation is deemed safe for transfusion, the work begins back at one of several production laboratories.
Break it down
In the production lab, your donation goes through several steps to prepare it for transfusion. Each blood bag is first placed in a centrifuge where the different components of blood become separated due to their different densities. A mechanical instrument then separates these components into different bags for further processing. Your white blood cells are filtered and discarded from your red blood cells, as this component cannot be transfused into patients. Ferritin is not processed in any significant way and thus does not factor into the production process. Your platelets are pooled with about four other donors’ platelets to form one full unit of platelets for transfusion, and your plasma proteins are processed into several different transfusable products.
Signed, sealed, and delivered
Each unit is bar-coded and entered into Canadian Blood Services’ inventory system for tracking, and then is released for delivery to hospitals. Hospitals order products directly from Canadian Blood Services, either through standing orders, regular daily requests, or urgent emergency requests. Blood is delivered via transport driver, bus, air, and even taxi.
Giving new life
Once blood products finally make it to hospitals, they are used in many different areas, but mostly in the emergency room, operating room, and oncology ward. Blood is most often used to treat accident victims, transplant recipients, surgical patients, and cancer patients, among many others. Given that more than 50 per cent of Canadians say they or someone they know has needed blood products shows how prevalent the need for blood really is. In fact, every minute of every day someone receives a blood transfusion in Canada.
Your blood, too, can go on to save three lives with each donation. Please register as a member of the Canadian Hemochromatosis Society Partners for Life team ID# CANA002257 and book an appointment to donate blood. Call 1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-236-6283) or visit www.blood.ca/eligibility for more information.