Blood Donation Centers

Among the many job positions available for Phlebotomists, working in a Blood Donation Center may be one of the most rewarding. Blood Donation Centers, such as the American Red Cross, perform over 16 million blood collections a year. With over five million people receiving blood, working at a Blood Donation Center allows you to touch many lives.

The Phlebotomist plays a central role in the blood donation process. The Phlebotomist collects blood from a blood donor following sterile and proper procedure during the transfusion process.  Along with collecting blood from the donor, the Phlebotomist also provides accurate recordkeeping and labeling on each blood product. Most donation centers now use bar-coding for labeling and tracking purposes. In doing this, the Phlebotomist ensures the patient gets the right blood when receiving a blood transfusion. By performing these tasks accurately, the Phlebotomist is instrumental in truly saving lives.

Did you know….

Every two seconds someone needs blood…one car accident victim may need up to 100 pints of blood in the course of their treatment.

There are over 5 million patients annually who receive blood, just in the United States alone.

Almost 40,000 donations are needed each and every day to keep up with demand

There are over one million cancer diagnoses made each year. During their chemotherapy  treatment many of these patients will need blood.

One donation can help save the lives of up to three people

Despite the cutting-edge technology available in the world today, blood cannot be manufactured. Any blood transfusion given to a patient is from generous donation only. Unfortunately, with such a demand for blood, shortages frequently occur.  Blood donation centers such as the Red Cross frequently hold blood drives when severe blood or plasma shortages occur.

The donation process is quite easy and involves only a few steps. It is important that each step is completed properly to ensure proper screening, sterile conditions, proper procedures and identification from start to finish.  

Step One – The person donating blood, the donor, registers. To donate blood, a donor must be at least 17, weigh at least 100 pounds and be in reasonably good health.

Step Two – A physical is completed, and the donor’s health history is taken. There are certain diseases or deferments that prevent a person from donating. These include recent heart attack, malaria, recent tattooing and exposure to hepatitis.

Step Three – Blood is collected, around one pint, as well as a few test tubes. The blood is generally collected from the crease in the arm, by the elbow. After donation, the donor is given a drink and snack.

Step Four – The donor’s patient record, as well as donated blood, is labeled with a bar code, identical on each blood product. This allows proper identification throughout the donation process. The labeling will be utilized while the blood is being stored, as well as during the blood’s distribution to an area hospital or central site.

Not all blood is alike….

Your blood is essentially the same as mine. However, certain elements are different. These differences, however small, can really affect the transfusion process.

When a donor begins the donation process, their blood will be screened for blood type, and a cross-match. Why? While one person’s blood is essentially the same as the next, there are differences that can affect the transfusion process. It is important to ensure a donor’s blood goes to a patient who has the same differences in their blood as the donor. This process ensures the patient does not reject the blood, much as an organ must be accepted during a transplant.

If typing and cross matching were not done, the donated blood could be easily transfused to a patient who has blood not compatible with the donor’s. The patient could then have an immune system response. This would cause their body to essentially ‘attack’ the blood as a foreign body, much like a transplanted organ can be rejected.

Blood Types

Blood type is determined by the genes received from each parent. You receive one gene from each parent, and thus inherit your blood type from them. There are eight blood types, determined by the presence or lack of antigens that can trigger an immune system response. The types of blood are O +, O-, A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-.

Blood Groups – In the early 1900’s, Karl Landsteiner distinguished the first blood classification system of ABO. This system creates four basic groups: A, AB, B and O. Everyone has two copies of each gene. This creates six combinations, called genotypes that could be possible: AA, BB, AB, OO, AO and BO.

A blood group is determined by the presence or lack of antigens that could trigger an immune system response. These antigens can trigger a patient’s immune system to attack what is considered a ‘foreign’ substance in their body.

There are four groups, different from one another by the lack or presence of two antigens on the surface of red blood cells:

Group A – has A antigen on red cells, B antibody in plasma. This group can donate red blood cells to both A and AB types.

Group B – has B antigen on red cells and A antibody in plasma. This group can donate red blood cells to both B and AB types.

Group AB – has A and B antigen on red cells, but neither on plasma. This group can donate blood to other AB’s.

Group O – has no antigens on red cells, but both A and B antibody on plasma.

Along with the antigens A and B, a third antigen can also be present. If donated blood is (Rh positive) it can be given to both Rh positive or negative patients, while a (Rh negative) donation is only given to an Rh negative patient.

 Type O is different

Type O-negative red blood cells can be transfused to any patient, no matter their blood type. Because of this versatility, Type O-negative blood is in huge demand, yet in short supply. This blood type is a ‘universal’ blood type.

Type AB-positive plasma can also be transferred to patients of any blood type, putting it in high demand as well.

A blood donation is typically around one pint – a red blood cell transfusion is typically three pints.

Blood Components

When you donate blood, there are four components to your blood that can be transfused. Because one pint of blood has several components in it, this means one pint of blood can save up to three people’s lives!

These components are:

Platelets –Must be used within 5 days of collection

Plasma – Stored frozen, these can be used up to one year

Red blood cells – Must be used within forty-two days

Cryoprecipitate – Stored frozen, these can be used up to one year

You can choose to donate whole blood, or a specific component of your blood such as platelets. This type of donation is known as aphaeresis.

The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs

Donating blood is a wonderful decision. After all, most people have blood to spare, yet there is never enough for people truly in need due to disease, trauma or treatment. Donating blood saves lives!

How will a blood donation affect my body?

There are over 16 million blood donations that are collected each year in the U.S. These donations are provided by over 9.5 million blood donors.

First-time blood donors frequently ask ‘Will I have enough blood in my body?’ The human body contains around ten pints of blood – only one pint is taken during a blood donation.

Our bodies produce a constant supply of plasma, platelets and red blood cells through our bone marrows. When a person donates blood, their body is able to replenish the donated amounts quickly – some elements within a few hours, others in a few weeks.

How often can a blood donation be made?

If you are healthy, you can donate ….

Red blood cells – every 56 days

Double red cells – every 112 days

Platelets – seven days apart, but not to exceed 24 times a year

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