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.”