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Q&A: Special Collections, including directed donations

Maintaining a safe, available blood supply is vital to the health and well-being of our community.

Patients rely on blood transfusions to treat acute care needs including severe trauma, surgeries such as open-heart procedures and organ transplants, sickle cell disease, anemia, cancer treatments, childbirth, and many others. The priority for Carter BloodCare and the U.S. blood community is maintaining the safety and integrity of the blood supply on behalf of these patients.

Also important to community health is providing science-based information for donors and recipients.

We appreciate and fully support any opportunity to shed light on any aspect of blood donation and boost understanding that helps the thousands of Texas patients who count on Carter BloodCare and our donors every day.

This Q&A answers questions on Carter BloodCare’s special collections program.

What is the special collections program?

Carter BloodCare has historically offered special collections for donors. This includes directed donations. A directed donation is a blood donation made by a friend or family member whose blood components are compatible with a designated patient, as requested and approved by the patient’s physician.

Is the special collections program being updated?

Yes. Advances in testing ensure the community blood supply supports the majority of patient transfusion demands, including those filled by family-and-friends directed donations.

What will be different?

Beginning April 14, 2023, Carter BloodCare will not accept requests for directed donations. Because these donations are scheduled five to 14 days in advance, we will collect previously requested directed donations through April 28, 2023.

Do you consider cases with compatibility issues for some patients?

Yes. In unique situations for complex compatibility needs, Carter BloodCare’s physicians will work with the treating physician to make arrangements.

Is directed donor blood safer than general volunteer donor blood?

No. There is no evidence patients can choose safer donors themselves than the overall blood system provides each day. Thorough, extensive testing is performed on every blood donation, from directed and volunteer donors alike.  

What tests are conducted on donated blood?

More than a dozen tests are done on every unit of donated blood. The full list of tests is available at CarterBloodCare.org.

What if a donor tests positive for an infectious disease?

If a unit tests positive, the blood donation is discarded. Based on the type of positive test result, the donor may be temporarily or indefinitely deferred. All test results are confidential. The donor is notified of any clinically significant abnormal test results or may be notified for a personal consultation to help the donor understand test results.

Aren’t blood donations regulated?
Yes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides oversight of our nation’s blood supply. All blood collectors in the United States are required to follow FDA guidelines and regulations for the collection, testing and distribution of blood components.

Are any other donor collections programs affected?

Special collections such as autologous, therapeutic phlebotomy and testosterone replacement therapy are unchanged.

I still have questions about special collections. Can you help?

Yes. We want to ensure donors and recipients alike have thorough information and we’re glad to answer any questions. At your convenience, please contact Carter BloodCare at DonorAdvocate@CarterBloodCare.org.