What Happens To My Blood After I’ve Donated It?

I don’t know about you, but when I give money to a charity or good cause, it always helps me feel better about my donation when I actually know and  understand where it is going and how it is being used. The same can be said for many donors when it comes to the topic of blood donations.

“What happens to my blood after I’m done?” is a very common question to hear from a donor. Here is a breakdown of what happens before that blood donation can be used for patient treatments.

What Happens To Blood Donations After A Donor Donates?

  • The blood donation is labeled and processed. You’ve probably noticed that on your blood donation, there is a small, scannable barcode. That little barcode contains information such as who (and where) the donation came from, when it was donated, and other bits of specific identification. It is packed in extremely cold transport containers and then shipped to the blood center’s respective laboratories for testing.
  • The blood is tested for abnormalities and diseases before use. Naturally, blood donations must undergo a series of strict and regulated tests for diseases and other considerations before being actually transfused into a patient. After the blood is received from the donation center, it will be divided into its individual components such as red cells, platelets, and plasma. At this stage, the blood is typed, which comes down to actually identifying the ABO type and a positive or negative Rh factor. The blood is then specifically checked through a series of panel tests that will determine if it is positive for hepatitis, HIV, syphilis, or other sicknesses. No blood that is positive for anything that would defer its use is used, and the donor who made that donation is contacted if anything abnormal shows on the initial vial testing.
  • The blood is kept at cold temperatures, packaged, and awaits distribution. After the blood passes the tests it needs to go through, it awaits transportation in cold storage and is organized by blood type. Doing this helps a blood center be quick about shipping out blood that is urgently needed. When it comes to blood donor recruitment, a big reason why we schedule blood donors comes down to the fact that most blood centers want to be able to estimate how many units they can expect to receive to have better estimates of how many units they realistically can supply to a hospital at any given time. With the need for blood on the rise and already at high levels, blood units at this point do not remain idle for very long before the next step.
  • The blood unit(s) is used and transfused into the recipient. This is the moment and reason why people donate blood. It honestly does save lives. The number of blood units needed to treat specific accidents or medical circumstances can vary widely, and the same can be said about the specific component that is needed. At the end of the day, many lives are saved thanks to blood donors being able to provide a safe blood supply. Blood centers regularly need hundreds if not thousands of individuals to donate blood every single day, so that is why it is important to give when you can and as often as you can.

What questions do you have about where your blood goes after you have donated it? Feel free to post them below!