How donated blood goes from you to patient

11:18 AM, Jul 2, 2013   |    comments
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(AP image)

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- When you're donating blood you might not give much thought to what happens after you're done, but that pint of blood has 24 hours worth of testing and processing before it can be used.

The five tubes they take when you first start your donation end up in the lab at Michigan Blood along with your donation. The Medical Director for MI Blood, Dr. LeeAnn Weitekamp says those tubes are tested for a number of viruses.

"We'll test for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV 1 & 2, HTLV 1 & 2, syphilis, CMV. MI Blood has an extremely low infectious disease marker rate. A tenth of a percent that actually has anything in them at all," says Weitekamp.

While your blood is being tested and your donated pint is being spun down, Weitekamp says that's how they separate out the three blood products that can be used. "The red cells contain iron, they're heavy, they go to the bottom, white cells layer on top of that and the delicate little platelets are on top of that plasma is on top of that."

White cells are discarded. They contain enzymes from viruses your body has fought off which can't be passed on to someone in need of blood.

Plasma is frozen, your platelets are pooled with other matching donors and your red blood cells are refrigerated. Then they're stored until the infectious disease testing is completed.

Once it's given the all clear, it's packed up and transported to local hospitals. "We know that our blood is local, all of the hospitals in Kent County use MI Blood so we know the blood that's donated stays local," says Amna Seibold, the director of pathology at Mercy Health's Saint Mary's Hospital. "We get our blood here we process it. We make sure that the blood is correctly matched to the patient and then the blood goes out."

There are a variety of ways your blood is transported throughout the hospital. A chute for hospital rooms, a lift for surgery. "For extreme emergencies we will be running blood through the hallways to the emergency room." says Seibold.

There's no telling who will get your blood but there's one thing you can know for sure, it is being used to save a life.

If you're thinking about becoming a blood donor you're in luck. Michigan Blood is holding a blood drive all this week. You can stop in at any of their locations and as a thank you for donating you'll receive a free Love Michigan tee shirt.

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