From Vein to Vein
The Journey of Blood
The substance known as “blood” consists of a protein-rich liquid component, plasma which contains formed elements, namely red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. The components of blood course through a complex circulatory system nourishing and protecting the human body.
|When a whole blood donation is made at Canadian Blood Services, the donor is first screened for his/her own health, and answers an extensive list of questions, designed to determine donor suitability. Determining the donor's suitability ensures the health of both the donor and the patient who will receive the blood products.
At the time of donation, blood is collected under sterile conditions.
|The blood donation is always made under sterile conditions created by the use of a disinfecting agent to cleanse the donor's arm and a sterile, single use needle to withdraw the blood. The needle is inserted into a vein and the blood flows through plastic tubing to a sterile blood bag. When the donation is complete, several blood samples are taken for the purposes of testing. The units and samples are sent to Canadian Blood Services laboratories for processing.
The blood samples are tested for ABO and Rh group, red cell antibody screening, and the following transmissible diseases: Syphilis, Hepatitis B and C, HIV 1 and 2, Human T-Cell lymphotropic viruses HTLV I and II and West Nile Virus. Canadian Blood Services also uses Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT), a second (not as yet licenced) testing method that is more sensitive than current licensed tests in detecting Hepatitis C and HIV, to ensure the safest possible blood products.
Transmissible Disease Testing from samples collected at Donation.
Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) reduces the window period for detecting Hepatitis C and HIV.
|The units of blood are sent to the Component Production laboratory. As part of the production process, each unit of blood is received and assessed for suitability. Each unit is then separated, by centrifugation, into red blood cells, plasma and depending on hospital requirements, platelets and cryoprecipitate. Each unit of blood also undergoes Leukoreduction, a filtration process to remove white blood cells. Leukoreduction reduces the chance of side effects such as chill or fever that could be harmful to the recipient.
Centrifuges are used to separate the components of blood within the original blood donation bag.
Each unit of blood is leukoreduced to remove the white blood cells.
||All components are then stored at the appropriate temperature and conditions to optimize their quality and shelf life. When the testing and production are complete, the components are then released to inventory and are available for distribution to our hospital customers.|
Hospital customers place orders for blood products by fax or by phone. Canadian Blood Services laboratory staff monitor inventory levels of all products and fill the hospital orders as they arrive. The appropriate components are then retrieved, checked, packed, and shipped to our customers.
Hospitals then have the appropriate components necessary to fill doctors’ orders for their patients. The blood that had once nourished and protected a donor’s body can be transfused to patients:
- undergoing major surgery
- undergoing organ or bone marrow transplants
- being treated for trauma, cancer or a wide variety of other medical problems