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Be a Lifesaver this Month

Posted Jan 05 2010 10:31pm
A mechanical tray agitates the bag to mix the ...
Image via Wikipedia

January is considered National Blood Donor Month.  Many lives are saved every year because of blood donations. But, did you know that there are many different aspects of blood that are used to save lives?  For example, many people associate blood as the red bag (RBC’s or Red Blood Cells) of fluid that slowly infuses life into another person.  However, from blood donations there are other products made like Fresh Frozen Plasma, albumin, platelets, immune globulins and cryoprecipitates. 

 Here are a few interesting facts about blood donation:

The approximate distribution of blood types in the US blood donor population is as follows. Distribution may be different for specific racial and ethnic groups:

 O Rh-positive  39 percent
 O Rh-negative   9 percent (that’s me!)
 A Rh-positive  31 percent
 A Rh-negative   6 percent
 B Rh-positive   9 percent
 B Rh-negative   2 percent
 AB Rh-positive   3 percent
 AB Rh-negative   1 percent


In an emergency, anyone can receive type O red blood cells, and type AB individuals can receive red blood cells of any ABO type. Therefore, people with type O blood are known as “universal donors,” and those with type AB blood are known as “universal recipients.” In addition, AB plasma donors can give to all blood types.

Each unit of whole blood normally is separated into several components. Red blood cells may be stored under refrigeration for a maximum of 42 days, or they may be frozen for up to 10 years. Red cells carry oxygen and are used to treat anemia. Platelets are important in the control of bleeding and are generally used in patients with leukemia and other forms of cancer. Platelets are stored at room temperature and may be kept for a maximum of seven days. Fresh frozen plasma, used to control bleeding due to low levels of some clotting factors, is kept in a frozen state for usually up to one year. Cryoprecipitated AHF, which contains only a few specific clotting factors, is made from fresh frozen plasma and may be stored frozen for up to one year. Granulocytes are sometimes used to fight infections, although their efficacy is not well established. They must be transfused within 24 hours of donation.

Other products manufactured from blood include albumin, immune globulin, specific immune globulins, and clotting factor concentrates. Commercial manufacturers commonly produce these blood products.

For more information on where to donate, how to donate, or to have your own blood drive at work, visit

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