Where does the blood go?
By Zach Moser
Perrysburg had their annual blood drive last week. The benefits of the blood drive are wide spread.
“One pint of blood can help up to seven people at our local hospitals,” said David Hunter, National Honors Society adviser and blood drive coordinator.
The Red Cross, the organization that actually collects the blood, says someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds, and while the impact of one person might not be big, it could be worth someone’s life.
The process of giving blood doesn’t just end at donating. Actually, that’s where it all starts.
After donors complete the physical and fill out previous health records, a donor typically gives about a pint of blood along with a few test tubes for analyzing the blood. All donated blood gets stamped with a label for organizational purposes.
The next step in the journey of blood donation is processing.
This is where the blood is made usable for people who need it. Blood is first scanned into a database with the information about the blood. After the paperwork is out of the way, it’s time to put it into a centrifuge, a spinning device that separates the blood into the main parts — red blood cells, platelets, and plasma. After the blood is separated, it is then processed more to make products like precipitate, a substance that helps with blood clotting.
In order to ensure the blood does more good than bad, it has to get tested. Remember the test tubes that were drawn along with the blood? The blood in those test tubes is what gets tested. The test tubes are sent to one of three labs. The blood is not tested once, not twice, but more than a dozen times. After all the testing has been performed, results from the test then get electronically sent to the manufacturing facility. If any blood test comes back positive, the blood is discarded and the donor is notified. After manufacturing, it is time for the blood to actually be put to use.
Blood isn’t directly used after it has been manufactured. It is stored at a hospital until it is ready to be used. Plasma is frozen and thawed when it needed. It can be stored for up to a year. Red blood cells are kept about 42 degrees and must be used within 42 days. Platelets can remain at room temperature in agitators and must be used within five days.
From start to finish, donating blood is a lengthy process that can save many lives. Next time you see that a blood drive is coming, sign up for it and give the gift of life. Remember, you might be the one who needs blood some day.
“I wasn’t really planning on [giving blood] or prepared for it because I didn’t know I got a spot until [the morning of the blood drive], but I did,” senior donor Adithya Reji. “And I’m glad I did, because I saved three lives that day.”