Transfusion Science: The World Wants & Needs Your BLOOD.

Do you see commercials from your local blood bank advertising you to donate blood? We hear it all the time, blood bank are low in blood donations and constantly need donors. Majority of us know that once we go into the clinic, a nurse or a phlebotomist collects our bloods and test it to determine which ABO group we are, and screen for compatibility. If you read online, there are various sources that provides information to the donor of the useful tips to prepare for your appointment. Here are a few direct links for you curious bees out there:

http://www.transfusionguidelines.org/
https://www.blood.ca/en/blood/becoming-donor

For a fun and illustrated book to learn about your first transfusion – check out the My First Transfusion Book by 2012 McMaster Transfusion Research Program. http://www.cec.health.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/258073/my-first-transfusion.pdf

However, what goes on really after you donate your blood? How can my one package of blood save multiple lives that they claim all the time?

Whole blood consists of: red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma (immunoglobulins, coagulation factors, proteins). After you donate whole blood, where does the magic happen of processing and typing? At the blood transfusion centre performed by medical laboratory technologists.

To save more lives and to provide a wide range of care to various ill patients, whole blood are centrifuged and separated into: (1) red blood cells (2) pooled platelets (3) frozen fresh plasma.

Why? it makes the most effective sense, some patients suffer from certain diseases that only require a specific element of blood. It makes the most from your blood!

Blood Loss or Anemia transfuse with Red Blood Cells

Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) or dysfunction transfuse with Pooled Platelet

Clotting Factor Deficiencies transfuse with Frozen Fresh Plasma

Those are just clinical examples of when we need to transfuse patients with specific blood components. However, think about leukemia patients who require white blood cells, or a patient with severe blood loss in the ER. Blood and its components that are currently only able to produced by us – humans. Research are looking into synthetic red blood cells for the ‘backup’ of when there are no other options. Go out there today and donate some of your precious blood, you will make new blood cell back, unlike some unlucky folks out there.

Here’s to all the participants of donating their time and blood all around the world, and share their active process on social media: #beadonor #igiveblood

References

Basu, D., & Kulkarni, R. (2014). Overview of blood components and their preparation. Indian Journal of Anaesthesia, 58(5), 529–537. http://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5049.144647

Joint United Kingdom (UK) Blood Transfusion and Tissue Transplantation. (2014). http://www.transfusionguidelines.org/transfusion-handbook/3-providing-safe-blood/3-3-blood-products

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