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blood supply


SEPT / OCT 2015


Healthcare Journal of baton rouge  

to the needs of some local blood centers.

Dow Chemical, for example, has been the

most generous corporate supporter for Our

Lady of the Lake’s Blood Donor Center for


After blood is collected, it is sent off for

testing, including for HIV, Hepatitis B and

C, syphilis, and other infectious diseases,

before being sent to hospitals and clinics.

Because blood can also be processed into

separate parts—red cells, platelets, plasma,

and cryoprecipitate—blood donor recruiters

say that one blood donation can save up to

three lives.Another option is donating plate-

lets or plasma only via apheresis.

Healthcare providers can store blood

products for different amounts of time. Pro-

viders must transfuse red blood cells within

42 days of collection, platelets within five

days of collection, and plasma, which can be

frozen, within one year. Expiration dates are

particularly important for collecting plate-

let donations, as about two days of platelets’

lifespan is taken up by testing.

While all blood types are important to

have on hand in some supply, certain blood

types and products are usedmore often than

others, particularly for trauma patients.

When someone comes into the emergency

room and needs blood without time to be

tested and typed, a healthcare provider can

give the patient O negative red cells or AB

platelets, depending on which is needed.

Both blood products are universal types

that can be transfused to anyone. There-

fore, providers tend to keep a larger supply

of these blood products on hand in addi-

tion to the necessary amounts of other types.

Also, because these products are in such

high demand, if a hospital has a shortage of

one of these two types, it is sometimes dif-

ficult for providers to purchase those prod-

ucts on the mass market. The products are

often in short supply everywhere.

Challenges Posed to Maintaining

the Blood Supply

Alack of commonly-needed blood products

on the market represents just one of several

challenges faced by healthcare providers

and blood donation centers in keeping the

blood supply healthy. A major challenge is

the sheer volume of blood products needed

for healthcare providers to meet the needs

of patients every day, and that is while con-

tending with the limited shelf life of some


Human blood has no substitute, and it

cannot be manufactured, so providers and

blood centers rely entirely on the generos-

ity of donors, all of whom are volunteers, to

Everyone seems to be very stressed

lately, so taking that time out of their

day to donate blood sometimes just

doesn’t become a priority anymore.”