Here’s Where Your Donated Blood Goes - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on April 15, 2016

Here’s Where Your Donated Blood Goes

The blood that is donated and collected through a Crozer-Keystone Health System blood drive goes to patients being treated right here in Delaware County.

The blood that is donated and collected
through a Crozer-Keystone blood drive goes
to patients being treated in Delaware County. 

There are plenty of people who donate blood because they want to help others. But, after donating a pint of blood, most people don’t think much about what happens to their blood or where it goes when the donation process is over.

People in surgeries, people who have been in traumatic accidents and people with certain diseases like cancer and sickle cell disease all need donor blood. According to the Red Cross, someone in the U.S. needs blood every two seconds.

The reason blood donations are so important is not only because these people need it, but because there are currently no substitutes for blood.

After your work of donating a pint of blood is done and you’re finished sipping on juice and having a snack, here’s what happens to it.

After the pint and several small test tubes of blood you donated and your donor record are all labeled with a bar code to keep track of your donation, the blood is stored in ice coolers if transportation to a blood center is necessary. If you donate at a blood center or hospital, this may not be necessary.

The next step for your donated blood is processing. Whole blood donations are separated into three essential components: red cells, platelets and plasma.

During this time, the small test tubes of your blood collected during your donation are sent out to undergo dozens of tests in order to establish the blood type and test for infectious diseases. This testing and the pre-donation screening you went through are utilized to ensure the safety of the blood.

All donated blood is tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV, syphilis, West Nile virus, human T-cell lymphotropic virus, Chagas disease, sickle cell trait and unexpected red cell antibodies – a donor may have formed these in response to a previous exposure to blood through pregnancy or a transfusion.

No blood is released for transfusion without passing all of these required tests. In the event that one or more of these tests results are positive, the unit is discarded and the donor is notified.

After your donated blood has been divided into its three components, passed all tests and been typed and labeled, it gets stored in large refrigerators and freezers, ready for distribution to hospitals. Red cells are stored in refrigerators and have a shelf life of up to 42 days. Platelets are stored at room temperature in agitators and have a shelf life of up to five days. Plasma and anything manufactured from its primary components are frozen and stored in freezers for up to a year.

The final step of your donated blood’s journey is when it’s pulled out of storage, distributed to a hospital and given to a patient in need. The blood that is donated and collected through a Crozer-Keystone Health System blood drive goes to patients being treated right here in Delaware County.

On average, donated blood typically reaches a patient within 10 days. Your blood donation doesn’t just reach one patient – a single blood donation may be able to help save three patients’ lives. 

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