Here’s What Happens to Your Blood After You Donate It

By | November 3, 2019

Blood is separated into three components

Doctor holding fresh donor blood for transfusionplenoy m/Shutterstock

“Most whole blood donations are separated into transfusable components: red cells, platelets, and plasma,” says Dr. Young. Technicians use centrifuges to spin the blood at high speeds and separate the three components. “The testing and processing steps take approximately three days to complete,” says Dr. Young. Each of the three blood components can then be used to save up to three different people.

Red blood cells go in the fridge

Blood donationSura Nualpradid/Shutterstock

Once they’re separated out, red blood cells can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 42 days. “Patients who benefit most from transfusion of red blood cells include those with chronic anemia resulting from kidney failure or gastrointestinal bleeding, and patients with acute blood loss resulting from trauma,” says Dr. Young. “They can also be used to treat blood disorders such as sickle cell disease.” Find out why blood is the color red.

Plasma is frozen

Bag of Platelets, donation of plateletsRoom98/Shutterstock

Plasma is placed in a flash freezer, which is -27 degrees; it’s frozen solid in around 45 minutes. “Plasma is frozen within 24 hours of being donated giving it a shelf-life of one year,” says Dr. Young. “Plasma is commonly transfused to trauma, burn and shock patients, as well as people with severe liver disease or multiple clotting factor deficiencies.”

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