What Happens To Your Blood After You Donate It?

Central’s fourth Blood Drive of the year brings plenty of blood donors to Central for a great cause. However, most donors are not aware of what happens to their blood after donating it. So what does happen?

By Meaghan Keohane

After approximately a pint of blood has been collected into a few test tubes and a blood bag, all items are marked with identical barcodes and then placed in an iced cooler. Later that day, the blood is transported to the blood bank.

Then at the blood bank, the test tubes full of blood are sent to a blood testing laboratory. Numerous tests are run to determine blood type and also test for any infectious diseases. If an infectious disease is found, the test results will come back positive and the blood donor and the facility storing the blood donation are notified. The facility is then required to throw the blood bag away.

If the test comes back negative, the blood bank is notified the blood bag is ready to be prepared. The blood is then placed in a centrifuge, a rapidly rotating machine that separates red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. Then each of the separate samples are labeled and stored at specific temperatures.

Each specific part of the blood is used to treat explicit illnesses and emergencies. Red blood cell transfusions are used to help people who have anemia or lose large amounts of blood in a short amount of time. White blood cell transfusions are for people fighting deadly infections that are not responding to antibiotics. Plasma is most commonly used during surgeries due to the numerous important medical elements it includes. Plasma is also useful for treating kidney disease, liver disease, and types of hemophilia. Platelets are used to treat individuals who have bone marrow failure and leukemia, as well as treatment after transplant surgery and chemotherapy.

Blood donated at this Central Blood Drive mostly stays locally, but Tori Robbins, a Donor Recruitment Representative for United Blood Services explained, “If we have a secure supply of blood in our immediate area, we will ship it to places in need because there is always a need for blood in the United States.”

Photo: by Meghan Keohane