Testing Information

Blood Donations

The need for blood is great--on any given day, approximately 38,000 units of Red Blood Cells are needed. Accident victims, people undergoing surgery, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer, or other diseases, such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia, all utilize blood. More than 26.5 million units of blood components are transfused every year. If you would like to donate blood, you can contact Oklahoma Blood Institute with locations state wide.

The Oklahoma Division of American Red Cross Blood Services' Southwest Region serves more than 35 hospitals throughout the state, and last year provided an average of 400 units of blood each day. American Red Cross also supplied more than 12,000 units of life-sustaining platelets to cancer patients. The Oklahoma Division hosts more than 1,700 blood drives every year.

As a patient and recipient of a blood transfusion, it is important that you receive the highest standard of care and the safest blood possible. The American Association of Blood Banks'' (AABB) mission is to protect patients and the nation''s blood supply. The AABB sets standards for blood banks and transfusion services, and accredits member blood banks and transfusion services that meet these high standards. If you would like to donate blood or are in need of a blood transfusion as part of an upcoming surgery or therapy, be sure to consider an AABB-accredited hospital.

How much blood is donated each year?

AABB estimates that eight million volunteers donate blood each year. According to the National Blood Data Resource Center (NBDRC) about 15 million units of whole blood and red blood cells were donated in the United States in 2001.

Typically, each donated unit of blood, referred to as whole blood, is separated into multiple components, such as red blood cells, plasma, platelets, and cryoprecipitated AHF (antihemophilic factor). Each component generally is transfused to a different individual, each with different needs.

Who needs blood?

The need for blood is great - on any given day, an average of 38,000 units of red blood cells are needed. Blood transfusions often are needed for trauma victims - due to accidents and burns - heart surgery, organ transplants, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or other diseases, such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia. NBDRC reports that in 2001, nearly 29 million units of blood components were transfused. And with an aging population and advances in medical treatments and procedures requiring blood transfusions, the demand for blood continues to increase.

Who donates blood?

Fewer than 5 percent of healthy Americans eligible to donate blood actually donate each year. According to studies, the average donor is a college-educated white male, between the ages of 30 and 50, who is married and has an above-average income. However, a broad cross-section of the population donates every day. Furthermore, these "average" statistics are changing, and women and minority groups are volunteering in increasing numbers to donate. Persons 69 years and older account for approximately 10 percent of the population, but they require 50 percent of all whole blood and red blood cells transfused, according to NBDRC. Using current screening and donation procedures, a growing number of blood banks have found blood donation by seniors to be safe and practical.

Patients scheduled for surgery may be eligible to donate blood for themselves, a process known as autologous blood donation. In the weeks before non-emergency surgery, an autologous donor may be able to donate blood that will be stored until the surgical procedure.

What are the criteria for blood donation?

To be eligible to donate blood, a person must be in good health and generally must be at least 17 years of age (although some states permit younger people, with parental consent, to donate). Minimum weight requirements may vary among facilities, but generally, donors must weigh at least 110 pounds. Most blood banks have no upper age limit. All donors must pass the physical and health history examinations given prior to donation.

Volunteer donors provide nearly all blood used for transfusion in the United States. The donor''s body replenishes the fluid lost from donation in 24 hours. It may take up to two months to replace the lost red blood cells. Whole blood can be donated once every eight weeks (56 days). Two units of red blood cells can be donated at one time, using a process known as red cell apheresis. This type of donation can be made every 16 weeks.

Who should not donate blood?

  • Anyone who has ever used intravenous drugs (illegal IV drugs)
  • Men who have had sexual contact with other men since 1977
  • Anyone who has ever received clotting factor concentrates
  • Anyone with a positive antibody test for HIV (AIDS virus)
  • Men and women who have engaged in sex for money or drugs since 1977
  • Anyone who has had hepatitis since his or her eleventh birthday
  • Anyone who has had babesiosis or Chagas disease
  • Anyone who has taken Tegison for psoriasis
  • Anyone who has risk factors for Crueutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD "mad cow") or who has an immediate family member with CJD
  • Anyone who has risk factors for vCJD (variant Cruetzfeldt-Jacob disease)
  • Anyone who spent three months or more in the United Kingdom from 1980 through 1996
  • Anyone who has spent five years in Europe from 1980 to the present.
  • Where is blood donated?

There are many places where blood donations can be made. Bloodmobiles (mobile blood drives on specially constructed buses) travel to high schools, colleges, churches, and community organizations. People can also donate at community blood centers and hospital-based donor centers. Many people donate at blood drives at their places of work. You may use the online Locator or consult the yellow pages to locate a nearby blood center or hospital to donate.

What is Apheresis?

Apheresis, an increasingly common procedure, is the process of removing a specific component of the blood, such as platelets, and returning the remaining components, such as red blood cells and plasma, to the donor. This process allows more of one particular part of the blood to be collected than could be separated from a unit of whole blood. Apheresis is also performed to collect red blood cells, plasma (liquid part of the blood), and granulocytes (white blood cells).

The apheresis donation procedure takes longer than that for whole blood donation. A whole blood donation takes about 10-20 minutes to collect the blood, while an apheresis donation may take about one to two hours.

What tests are performed on donated blood?

After blood has been drawn, it is tested for ABO group (blood type) and Rh type (positive or negative), as well as for any unexpected red blood cell antibodies that may cause problems in a recipient. Screening tests also are performed for evidence of donor infection with hepatitis B and C viruses, human immunodeficiency viruses HIV-1 and HIV-2, human T-lymphotropic viruses HTLV-I and HTLV-II, and syphilis. The FDA is allowing national deployment of investigational nucleic acid amplification tests (NAT) to screen blood for West Nile virus (WNV) genetic material -- an approach similar to that taken for NAT to detect HIV and HCV.

The specific tests currently performed are listed below:

Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)
Hepatitis B core antibody (anti-HBc)
Hepatitis C virus antibody (anti-HCV)
HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibody (anti-HIV-1 and anti-HIV-2)
HTLV-I and HTLV-II antibody (anti-HTLV-I and anti-HTLV-II)
Serologic test for syphilis
Nucleic acid amplification testing (NAT) for HIV-1 and HCV
How is blood stored and used?

Each unit of whole blood normally is separated into several components. Red blood cells may be stored under refrigeration for a maximum of 42 days, or they may be frozen for up to 10 years. Red cells carry oxygen and are used to treat anemia. Platelets are important in the control of bleeding and are generally used in patients with leukemia and other forms of cancer. Platelets are stored at room temperature and may be kept for a maximum of five days. Fresh frozen plasma, used to control bleeding due to low levels of some clotting factors, is kept in a frozen state for usually up to one year. Cryoprecipitated AHF, which contains only a few specific clotting factors, is made from fresh frozen plasma and may be stored frozen for up to one year. Granulocytes are sometimes used to fight infections, although their efficacy is not well established. They must be transfused within 24 hours of donation.

Other products manufactured from blood include albumin, immune globulin, specific immune globulins, and clotting factor concentrates. Commercial manufacturers commonly produce these blood products.

What fees are associated with blood?

While donated blood is free, there are significant costs associated with collecting, testing, preparing components, labeling, storing and shipping blood; recruiting and educating donors; and quality assurance. As a result, processing fees are charged to recover costs. Processing fees for individual blood components vary considerably. Processing fees for one specific component also may vary in different geographic regions. Hospitals charge for any additional testing that may be required, such as the crossmatch, as well as for the administration of the blood.

What is the availability of blood?

The blood supply level fluctuates throughout the year. For example, after the Sept. 11 attacks, the blood supply swelled to very high levels, due to the overwhelming response of donors. During holidays and in the summer, levels tend to fall because donations decline, but demand remains stable or even increases. In addition, policies recommended by the Food and Drug Administration can eliminate, or defer, donors who may be at risk for variant Cruetzfeldt-Jacob disease (vCJD), the human variety of the disease that is commonly known as "mad-cow" disease. Also, FDA can recommend that a potential donor who may be at risk for a transfusion-transmissible disease such as West Nile virus be deferred. These policies reduce the number of people who are eligible to donate.

What can you do if you aren't eligible to donate?

While a given individual may be unable to donate, he or she may be able to recruit a suitable donor. Blood banks are always in need of volunteers to assist at blood draws or to organize mobile blood drives. In addition, monetary donations are always welcome to help ensure that blood banks can continue to provide safe blood to those in need.

Information taken from the American Association of Blood Banks website. Visit it at www.aabb.org

Copyright © 2004 American Association of Blood Banks. All Rights Reserved.