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After You Donate Blood

Published: October 18, 2016 4:00 AM

One of the questions people ask about donation is where their blood ends up. The lifecycle of your blood is fairly straightforward, only following a few simple steps from when you donate to when it is eventually labeled and stored. Donors can rest assured that professionals from the American Red Cross are fully qualified to handle and process blood within all safety, health and confidentiality standards. If you're still a bit hesitant about the process, reach out to your local Red Cross office for more information regarding your concerns. They will be able to walk you through any concerns you have about the donation process.


To begin the process phase of blood donation, your blood is scanned into a computer database and then spun in centrifuges to separate the transfusable components, such as red blood cells, platelets and plasma. The primary components, such as plasma, can be further manufactured into components such as cryoprecipitate, while red cells go through leuko-reduction. Single donor platelets are leuko-reduced and bacterially assessed before being sent away for intensive testing.


The next step involves your test tubes being shipped to one of three Red Cross National Testing Laboratories, where a dozen tests are performed on each unit of donated blood. This helps establish the blood type and test for infectious diseases. If a test result is positive for disease, the unit is discarded and the donor is notified. Test results are confidential and are only shared with the donor, except as may be required by law. Check in with your local Red Cross professionals to learn more about their policies regarding disclosing blood test results.

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Storage &


Once test results are received, units suitable for transfusion are labeled and stored in refrigerators at 6 degrees Celsius for up to 42 days.

Storage requirements for other materials are as follows, according to the Red Cross:

Platelets are stored at room temperature in agitators for up to five days; and

Plasma is frozen and stored in freezers for up to one year.

When it comes to distribution, your Red Cross representative will orchestrate the delivery of your blood in a safe, compliant manner. Your blood could be used for transfusions and other medical emergencies at any time. In fact, blood is available to be shipped to hospitals 24/7.

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