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FAQs About Blood and Blood Needs

  • Why is blood needed?
  • How much blood is donated each year?
  • How much blood is needed each year?
  • What is done with donated blood?
  • Who needs blood?
  • What are the components of blood and their use?
  • Can you accumulate and store blood?
  • What blood type is needed most?
  • What is Apheresis?
  • See also answers to common concerns about donating blood

    Why is blood needed?

    Blood helps keep the body healthy. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body, and takes carbon dioxide and other waste products to the lungs, kidneys, and liver for disposal. It fights infections, and helps heal wounds. It is needed to sustain the lives of people whose blood functions have been impaired by injury or illness.

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    How much blood is donated each year?

    From some online resources, every year about 40 Lakh units of blood is donated in our nation.

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    How much blood is needed each year?

    From some online resources, every year our nation requires about 4 Crore units of blood.

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    What is done with donated blood?

    Typically, each donated unit of blood - referred to as whole blood - is separated into multiple components, such as red blood cells, plasma, platelets, and cryoprecipatitated AHF (antihemophilic factor). Each component can be transfused to different individuals with different needs. Therefore, each donation can be used to help save as many as three lives.

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    Who needs blood?

    Under normal circumstances, every two seconds someone will need a blood transfusion. Blood transfusions are used for trauma victims - due to accidents and burns - heart surgery, organ transplants, women with complications during childbirth, newborns and premature babies, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or other diseases, such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia.

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    What are the components of blood and their use?

    The primary components of whole blood are red blood cells, platelets, plasma, and cryoprecipitate.

    Whole blood Open heart surgery, newborns
    Red blood cells Trauma, anemia, surgery
    Platelets Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy
    Fresh frozen plasma Massive transfusions
    Plasma Burns
    Cryoprecipitate Hemophilia

    Can you accumulate and store blood?

    Blood has a limited shelf life. The different components of blood can last from 5 days to a year or more.

  • Platelets must be used within 5 days of donation.
  • Red blood cells may be stored under refrigeration for a maximum of 42 days. Frozen red blood cells can last up to 10 years, but because of the high cost involved, only a small portion of the blood supply can be frozen.
  • Plasma is generally frozen and must be used within one year.
  • Because blood is perishable, new donations are needed every day.

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    What blood type is needed most?

    All blood types are needed. Common blood types are needed because there are many patients with them. Less common blood types are needed because there are fewer donors to give them. However, people with O- blood are particularly in demand because they are the "universal donor." It means that people of all blood types can receive O- blood safely, so it is used during life-threatening emergencies or when the matching blood type is in short supply. AB types are universal recipients. This relationship is reversed for plasma products. AB type plasma can be transfused to all patients, while O- types are the universal plasma recipients. Therefore, all types are really needed!

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    What is Apheresis?

    Aphersis is the process of removing a specific component of the blood, such as platelets or plasma, and returning the remaining components (red blood cells and plasma or platelets respectively) 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. For example, the amount of platelets collected in one apheresis donation is five to eight times more than in a regular blood donation. Platelet apheresis donations also allow donors to give a lot more often if desired. Platelet donors only need to wait 3 days before they are eligible to donate again, versus 56 days for whole blood donors.

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