Blood Use

Your blood and its components have many uses. Find out more!

Hospitals stock some of the more common blood components used in emergencies, but often, blood products are not ordered until they are needed. They are kept at Carter BloodCare’s distribution department until a hospital orders them.

Whole blood, kept cool in refrigerators, can be transfused for 21 days after the donation.

Red cells can be used for 42 days after they are donated. They are used in the treatment of accident victims, to replace blood lost during surgery, to treat burn victims, and to increase the blood's oxygen-carrying capacity. They are also used in treatment of anemia that can't be medically corrected.

Platelets are stored separate from other components and must be used in the five days following the donation. They are used to treat bone marrow failure, leukemia and cancer patients, low platelet count or other conditions causing abnormally functioning platelets.

Plasma has a much longer shelf life and is often frozen for later use. Once thawed, plasma is used during cardiac surgery, for burn victims, and to treat bleeding disorders when many clotting factors are missing. This occurs in liver failure, when too much of a blood thinner has been given, or when severe bleeding and massive transfusions result in low levels of clotting factors.

Albumin makes up 60 percent of the protein in plasma and is produced in the liver. It is used when blood volume needs to be increased and other fluids have not worked, as in cases of severe bleeding, liver failure and severe burns.

Immunoglobulins are given to patients who have been exposed to diseases such as rabies, tetanus or hepatitis to help boost their immune system to fight the potential infection.

Factor VIII concentrate and cryoprecipitate are used by patients with hemophilia A (classic hemophilia), which is caused by a deficiency of factor VIII.

Factor IX concentrate is used by patients with hemophilia B ("Christmas disease"), which is caused by a deficiency of clotting factor IX.

Cryoprecipitate is prepared from plasma and contains fibrinogen, von Willebrand factor, factor VIII, factor XIII and fibronectin.
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