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What happens when you give blood?

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 15:57 UK time, Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Have you ever given blood? If you have, or even if you haven't, then you may have wondered what happens to it before it's put to good use. 


Sam Rainbird is Head of Processing at the Welsh Blood Service. She says they normally receive about 450 donations each day.  That may seem like a lot, but patients who have had an aneurysm can take up to forty units at one time.


As soon as the blood arrives, one percent of each donation is taken to microbiology for testing. Each sample is checked for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Syphilis and the Human T-Lymphocyte virus.


While the testing is going on, the rest of the donation is 'processed', so that it can be turned around as quickly as possible. 


Llinos Lee at the Welsh Blood Service

Llinos Lee goes behind the scenes at the Welsh Blood Service

When you give a whole blood, it can actually be split into three component parts: red blood cells, plasma and platelets. People don't actually need whole blood, they need each component part individually.


Red cells are used in major trauma, or if you're anaemic.  Plasma is also used for major trauma, particularly if you need clotting factors.  And platelets are special because they only have a five-day shelf life and are used in cancer patients. They act a bit like your bath plug - if you've cut or bruised yourself they will close that hole up and a clot will form over the top.



The final stage for the blood service is to circulate their stocks to the hospitals to be put to good use.  And then the process starts all over again.


The Welsh Blood Service covers South, West and part of Mid Wales.  If you live in North Wales, your blood is looked after by the National Blood Service due to logistical reasons.  Get more information about the National Blood Service and how you can donate.

Find out more at the Welsh Blood Service website, and where to donate. Want to know if you're eligible to give blood? Find out more here.


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