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The Benefits of Donating Blood

Donated blood is a part of almost all healthcare systems and is required to provide vital and emergency care all over the world. Blood transfusions are carried out millions of times a year, with an average of 2.5 million units transfused to patients. Blood transfusions can be carried out in many different instances, and donated blood used in a range of life-saving applications.

What is Donated Blood Used For?

Blood donors are a vital cog in the world of healthcare, and without donors and blood bank facilities, there would be a huge number of treatments that would not be carried out without them. Blood donations can be given either as whole blood, or as different components of blood, such as plasma.

Around two thirds of blood given by donors to the NHS Blood and Transplant Service is used to treat ongoing medical conditions, such as:

  • Anaemia
  • Sickle cell anaemia and other sickle cell conditions
  • Cancer and leukaemia 
  • Blood disorders

The other third on average is used in surgery and emergencies (including complications during childbirth).

Without blood donations, people with ongoing conditions and those in emergencies may not be able to get the life-affirming and lifesaving care they need, which is why blood donation is so important.

blood-donation-concept

Ensuring the safety of blood donors and recipients

While most healthy adults are encouraged to give blood if they can, there are stringent measures in place to prevent any blood that is unsafe for donation from being used in a transfusion. Like all medical products of human origin (MPHOs), blood donations need to be carefully screened and tracked from the donation to transfusion. Donations are all intensively screened for a range of health issues, including:

  • Infectious diseases
  • Low blood cell count
  • Blood disorders
  • A build-up of iron in the blood or iron deficient blood
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV)
  • Hepatitis E virus (HEV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and hepatitis B virus (HBV)
  • Syphilis
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

If any of these tests indicate a positive result, the donation will not be used. Further tests are carried out to ensure that the result does not indicate a positive diagnosis for the donor. A positive result in blood screening does not necessarily mean a positive diagnosis for the donor.

Donating Rare Blood Types

There are four different blood groups and blood types: A, B, AB, and O. Each of these blood groups also has two types: Rh-positive or Rh-negative.

The group you belong to depends upon the types of antigens and antibodies in your blood, which are generally inherited from your parents. Antigens are a combination of sugars and proteins that coat the surface of a red blood cell, while antibodies are a part of your body’s immune system. Antibodies recognise any ‘foreign’ antigens and tell your immune system to destroy them, to help prevent infections and fight disease. However, when someone is the recipient of a blood donation, receiving blood from the wrong ABO group can be life-threatening, as their own antibodies will not recognise those in the donated blood and will try to destroy them.

Therefore, rarer blood types are always in demand, AB and B blood types are the rarest blood types, with only 1-3 percent of the population having an AB blood type (Rh-positive or negative). O positive blood is the most common type, with more than a third of the population having this blood type.

O negative makes up 13% of blood donors, however, O negative blood is also known as the “universal donor”, as it can safely be given to members of any blood group. Blood stocks of all types are always needed to run a safe and functional healthcare system.

There are also a range of blood subtypes, which have even more specific characteristics. Ro blood, for example, only makes up around 2% of regular blood donors, according to the NHS Blood and Transplant Service. Ro blood plays an important role in the treatment of sickle cell disease – an inherited blood disorder that impacts red blood cells. Blood transfusions are often necessary to treat the condition, so subtypes, like Ro, ensure patients receive blood compatible with their blood type and subtype.

How Savant Helps Support Blood Banks

As an organisation specialising in a range of medical software, Savant are exceptionally well placed to support blood banks, hospitals, blood donors and blood donation systems in the storage, movement and tracking of blood donations. By tracking blood donations using our PULSE technology, blood donation services can confidently track and supply blood to those in need without any need to worry about the safety of the blood supplied.

To find out more about PULSE, or any of the other products and services we offer at Savant, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, and our expert team will be happy to help you.

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