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The journey of a blood bag

From the time of collection, across the analysis of the blood collections and the separation of the various blood products (red blood cells, plasma, and platelets), all the way up to the distribution to the hospitals, here is the journey of a blood bag.

The journey of a blood bag


COLLECTION

Ahead of the collection, the donor is asked to complete a medical questionnaire before sitting down to an interview with a doctor who will ask him questions regarding his lifestyle and medical history to make sure the donor qualifies to donate blood and that his donation will not pose any risk to the donor’s health or that of the recipient. Once the doctor gives the go-ahead, the nurse prepares the donor and performs the collection. On average, we collect 450 ml of blood as well as several tubes that are used for analysis purposes.

PREPARATION OF THE PRODUCTS

Once the blood has been drawn off, the blood bags are spun in the centrifuge so as to separate them into 3 products: red blood cells, platelets and plasma. Whole blood donations are never transfused as such to recipients. Patients are only administered what they need in consideration of their illness.

BIOLOGICAL ANALYSIS

In parallel with the second stage, tests are performed on the blood samples that were collected as part of the donation (virological, serological, immunological tests). If an abnormality is detected, the bags are immediately destroyed and the donor is notified.

CONFIRMATION AND DISTRIBUTION

Once the bags are ready and the analysis results do not show anything abnormal, the blood products are distributed around the 300 hospitals that are served by the "Service du Sang" of the Belgian Red Cross in response to their requests.

The storage life varies depending on the product:

•    42 days for red blood cells 
•    5 days for platelets
•    1 year for plasma