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Once the preliminary examination is completed, the donor sits in a collection chair, his arm is disinfected with an antiseptic and a specialized assistant takes blood from a vein using appropriate equipment. A unit of blood is collected during the donation, which lasts six to ten minutes.

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There is a series of blood products, pharmacological agents and methods for treating anemia, thrombocytopenia and hemorrhagic phenomena. Information about donated whole blood is entered into a computer database in the separation center.


Most donated whole blood is centrifuged to obtain components that can be transfused: erythrocytes, thrombocytes and plasma. Plasma can be processed to obtain components such as cryoprecipitate, which helps control the risk of hemorrhage by promoting blood clotting.


Erythrocytes and thrombocytes are leukocyte depleted, that is, leukocytes are removed to reduce the risk of a transfusion reaction on the part of the patient. Each component is packaged in a "unit", a standardized quantity that doctors use when performing a transfusion.




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Along with the separation, blood samples collected in test tubes are sent to the testing laboratory. Tests are done to determine the blood group and screen for infectious diseases. Test results are transmitted electronically to the processing center as quickly as possible. If the result of a test is positive, the donated blood is discarded and the donor is informed.



Once results are received, units suitable for transfusion are marked and stored. The erythrocytes are stored in refrigerators at 6 ºC for a maximum of forty-two days. Thrombocytes are stored at room temperature in shakers for a maximum of five days. Plasma and cryoprecipitates are frozen and stored in freezers for up to one year .

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Blood must be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to be sent to hospitals and health centres, which can build up stocks of blood units. Doctors decide if a patient needs a transfusion and if so, what type it should be.


Transfusions are performed in many circumstances, including serious injuries (after a traffic accident, for example), during surgery, childbirth, anemia, blood disorders, cancer treatments, to cite just a few examples.  


Patients who cannot produce enough platelets due to illness or chemotherapy may receive platelet transfusions to maintain good health.


Plasma transfusions are intended for patients with liver failure, patients with severe infections and patients with severe burns.

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