The only way of the medical environment to receive blood is through people who donate it as it cannot be grown in a lab or be found anywhere else that’s why it’s vital that people continue to give. Each donation can help around three people but blood has a life span and can actually only be kept up to 42 days. Blood is in constant need as the health industry need it on a daily basis and it is an essential part of the work the medics do. People who donate blood are offering a lifesaving power and are giving an essential gift to those who need it.
One of the Red Cross’s main areas is the donation of blood. A healthy adult has about 10 pints of blood inside their body so donating a pint would be of no harm. Donating blood not only helps those who needs blood transfusion but those requiring products found in the blood as it has four separate transfusable products which can be taken from it; red cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate. So donating a pint of blood can help up to a number of people with different requirements for it.
Donating blood can take just over 10 minutes and is done in four stages;
1. Registration; Sign in, talk about eligibility and read through information about donating blood.
2. Medical History/Mini Physical; a confidential interview to talk about your health and places you may have travelled to, a mini health check i.e. pulse, blood pressure, haemoglobin levels.
Donation; this is where the action happens. An area of the arm will be cleaned, a sterile needle will be inserted in your arm and blood will be drawn, this can take between 8-10 minutes, the needle is the discarded and the blood is stored in tubes. An estimated pint of blood will be taken.
4. Refreshments; after donating you will be treated to refreshments and allowed to leave about 15 minutes later.
What happens after donation?
The donated blood is collected into several different tubes, labelled and put into a bag which is also labelled. It is then put in ice boxes and transported to a Red Cross Centre for it to be processed. The blood that has been donated is put into a computer so that efficient records can be kept. The blood is then processed and all the components that are transfusable are separated. The blood also goes through a testing stage. A number of tests are performed on each unit of donated blood to check which blood type it falls in to and also to check for diseases that may be contained in the blood. The test results come back within hours, if the results are positive the blood is discarded and the donator is informed. If all the results are negative the blood goes on to be stored. The transfusable products are stored in different places depending on what they are as they have different storage requirements. It is then kept and ready to be made available whenever and wherever it is required.More information on giving blood here www.redcrossblood.org and also here www.redcross.org/blood