Uses of Donated Blood
In modern transfusion medicine, the usual way to use blood products is by component therapy. The various components that make up whole blood are useful in different ways. Thus, we use blood in its constituent components to optimise blood usage and obtain the maximal desired therapeutic effect.
Whole blood refers to blood in complete form, not separated into its various components.
Whole blood is seldom used for transfusions except for cases where there is rapid massive blood loss e.g. accident/trauma victims or during surgery.
Whole blood can be stored and used for transfusion up to 35 days after it has been given by a donor.
Red cells are used to treat all kinds of anaemia (lack of haemoglobin/red cells). They are also essential for the replacement of red cells lost due to accidents, surgery or childbirth.
Red cells may be stored and used for transfusion up to 42 days after they have been collected and processed.
Platelet transfusions are frequently given to patients unable to produce enough platelets in their bone marrow, such as those with leukaemia or other cancers, who have too few platelets as a result of their disease or cancer treatment.
After major surgery or extensive injuries, some patients may also need platelet transfusions to replace those lost through bleeding.
Platelets can be stored and used in transfusions for only 5 days after they have been collected and processed, which is very short as compared to the lifespan of other blood products and components.
Plasma is useful on its own. It can also be further processed to produce a host of valuable blood products for the treatment of diseases:
Fresh frozen plasma
Fresh frozen plasma (FFP) is an un-concentrated source of all clotting factors without platelets. It is used to stop bleeding secondary to clotting factor deficiencies and sepsis.
FFP can be stored and used for transfusion up to one year after it has been collected and processed.
Cryoprecipitated antihaemophilic factor
Cryoprecipitated antihaemophilic factor (cryo-precipitate) is a concentrated form of FFP. It is used to treat severe bleeding.
Cryo-precipitate usually contains factor XIII, factor VIII and factor VIII: VWF plus fibrinogen.
It can be stored and used for transfusion up to one year after it has been collected and processed.
Factor VIII Concentrate
Clotting Factor VIII can be refined and used to treat patients with haemophilia A, a condition which makes it harder to control bleeding due to deficiency of Clotting Factor VIII.
Immunoglobulins are protective antibodies that form when a person recovers from an infection or has received some type of immunisation. They are proteins generated by your white blood cells to attack foreign proteins (e.g. bacteria and viruses) that enter your body.
These immunoglobulins are useful for treating a range of infections and diseases.
Non-specific immunoglobulin products contain the antibodies to treat immunoglobulin deficiencies. Specific immunoglobulins, on the other hand, contain specially selected antibodies to treat a particular infection.