Where does your blood donation go?

Peter Hudson, clinical specialist in blood transfusion at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, with some of the blood stocks

Peter Hudson, clinical specialist in blood transfusion at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, with some of the blood stocks

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Ever wondered what happens to your blood once you’ve donated it or it’s been taken for a sample?

At Blackpool Victoria Hospital there’s a team of people who work all hours, even through the night, to ensure patients who need it are given exactly the right blood they need.

It’s an important process filled with numerous checks along the way to make sure both the patient’s details and blood details are absolutely right.

It starts with the vials taken from patients during blood tests on the wards.

Elizabeth Cowell, senior biomedical scientist at The Vic, said: “All patients will have two samples of blood taken for blood grouping.

“Once their details have been put into the system the sample goes into the centrifuge where it is spun and separates into plasma, red cells and platelets.”

Once separated the different parts are again tested for grouping and then checked for antibodies.

The antibodies are typically present if a patient has previously had a blood transplant or is pregnant.

The Vic’s blood team has a stock of around 200 units of the common blood groups, which is kept up thanks to two deliveries every day from the central blood store in Lancaster – which is where blood donated from people across Lancashire is stored.

It is kept in controlled temperature of between two and six degrees celcius, and if a unit has been out of the fridge for more than 30 minutes it becomes unusable.

The Vic also keeps a stock of frozen plasma.

Elizabeth added: “We use an awful lot of platelets here in Blackpool on patients who are having treatment for leukaemia or cardiac surgery, or patients with massive bleeds.

“We have to freeze the plasma within 24 hours of it being donated because they provide the clotting factors people need.”

It is Peter Hudson’s job as clinical specialist in blood transfusion to make sure none of the blood is wasted.

He said: “A lot of patients who need blood don’t need all the product so that’s why we break it down into its different components.

“That’s been the way for the last nine years across the whole of the UK, though I would think a lot of people would believe they are getting the whole blood product.”

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