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Healthy Tips

From Donation to Transfusion

What Happens When You Donate Blood

Blood By Numbers

  • Every two seconds in the U.S., someone needs a blood transfusion.
  • One blood donation may save up to three lives.
  • Nearly 21 million blood transfusions occur in the U.S. annually.

Here’s what happens to your blood after you donate.

Processing

  • Your donation is refrigerated on its way to a lab.
  • Your information is recorded in a database.
  • Your blood is spun down into basic components: red blood cells, platelets and plasma.
  • Lab technicians test your blood for infectious diseases ranging from hepatitis C to HIV. If your blood tests positive for any of these diseases it is discarded.

Storage

If your blood is suitable for donation, if will be stored as red blood cells, platelets and plasma, then sent to hospitals.
  • Red cells can last up to 42 days refrigerated.
  • Platelets can last up to five days and are stored at room temperature.
  • Plasma is frozen and can last up to one year.

Transfusion

Components of your blood may be used for a variety of patients.

  • People with cancer often require platelets, as certain treatments and cancers hinder platelet production.
  • People who experience trauma, such as a car accident, often require multiple blood components, such as red blood cells, plasma and platelets.
  • People with chronic diseases, such as sickle cell anemia, require multiple red blood cell transfusions throughout their lives.
  • People who experience burns often need plasma because it helps replace clotting factors and proteins which are vital for routine bodily functions.

Learn more and donate.