If you’ve given blood before, you know that you’ve just given a life-saving resource to people in need. However, there is a lot that happens between a donation and the time of the transfusion. At the time of your donation, the phlebotomist draws several tubes of blood before collecting the actual transfusion product. When your donation is completed, the blood in the tubes is what the laboratory uses later, for testing the blood. Once at the laboratory, the blood undergoes numerous tests to determine if it is safe for transfusion before it can be utilized by a community hospital partner for patients.
ABO Blood Grouping
This test establishes your blood type and helps to determine what blood types you can receive, if needed, in the future; and most immediately, which patients can receive your blood.
Similar to ABO testing, the Rh test indicates whether your blood type is positive or negative; further narrowing the options of patients who can safely receive your donation.
Red Cell Antibody Screen
This screening looks for unexpected antibodies on the red cells that could be caused from past transfusions, pregnancy, and other factors. Knowing which antibodies are present contributes to the decision-making about matching blood for patients.
Infectious Disease Testing
The primary diseases for which the blood is tested every time you donate are:
- Hepatitis B and C
- HIV – the virus that causes AIDS
- HTLV types I and II (viruses linked to a form of leukemia and inflammation of the spinal cord)
- West Nile virus – transmitted through mosquito bites
- Syphilis – a sexually transmitted disease
- Each donor is tested one time for Chagas disease which is transmitted through a bug that is referred to as “the kissing bug.”
Cholesterol is not a mandatory or regulated screening or test. Rather, Carter BloodCare offers this to its donors as a way to stay on top of health and cardiovascular risks.
How often are new tests added?
In order to keep each patient safe, the blood industry and multiple regulatory agencies are constantly looking at new health risks and disease that could affect the safety of the blood collected for transfusion. If the need arises to add another test, it is incorporated after much consideration by the regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
What happens if someone tests positive?
Depending on the type of positive test result, a donor may be temporarily or indefinitely deferred. Units with positive infectious disease markers are discarded. A donor will be notified of any significant abnormal test results. At that time, we are able to help the donor understand the test result and subsequent deferral, if any. All test results are confidential on a strict, need-to-know basis, including the required notification to the health department of certain positive test results.
If you have questions about testing, please call Donor Notification at 1-888-480-8200 or check out our FAQs.