The journey of blood donations

Do you know that every 2 seconds, someone in the world needs blood?

On the second War, in Vietnam over 58,000 soldiers were killed and 25% of them was died because of hemorrhage.
It’s fantastic when something from your body can really save a life without paying anything. Unlike the daily products, blood is a unique product as part of a billion-dollar business.

Blood donation not only good for donors health because they are actually at a lower risk for heart attack however it does not demand from everyone.
Due to the harsh conditional to maintain the quality of blood and it’s also a very meaningful product, I was curious about the supply chain of blood and the content below is what I found out about its journey.

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 8.03.05 PMFigure 1. The supply chain of Blood

The donations

  • Donor registers with a form of health check-list
  • About 1 pint of blood and several small test tubes are collected from each donor

Blood Center

  • Every blood units are poised in the bag test tubes and the donor record are labeled with an identical bar code label to keep track of the donation
  • The donation is stored in iced coolers until it is transported to a Blood Center

Manufacturing area

  • From Blood center, the blood packs are sorted and registered in the manufacturing area. Donated blood is scanned into a computer database
  • In here, each donation is tested to find out the donor group and checked for viruses to help ensure that each donation is safe to transfuse to patients.


  • This is one of the most important steps during the whole supply chain process
  • When test results are received, units suitable for transfusion are labeled and placed into controlled storage


  • Red Cells (which plays an important role in your health by carrying fresh oxygen throughout the body) are stored in refrigerators at 6ºC for up to 42 days
  • Platelets(tiny blood cells that help your body form clots to stop bleeding) are stored at room temperature in agitators for up to 5 days
  • Plasma and cryo are frozen and stored in freezers for up to one year


  • Blood is available to be shipped to hospitals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Most deliveries to hospitals go unnoticed by the public but sometimes an urgent delivery may require a vehicle with sirens and blue flashing lights to get to the patient as quickly as possible. After some checks, the blood is ready to be transfused.

IMG_6769Picture 1. A patient is receiving blood in the hospital

Interesting knowledge of writing this blog:

  • Blood can be stored up to one year after the donation
  • Gay men or a man “slept” with another man can’t donate blood
  • One donor can save up to 3 lives
  • Vitamin K is to contribute to normal blood clotting. It plays a vital role to increase the speed of blood clotting at the site of injury and prevent major blood loss. Therefore, a nutrition for blood is vitamin K (especially K1 can be found in foods such as broccoli, carrots, kale, watercress, kelp, eggs and cheese)
NHSBT Blood supply chain
The donation process
Vitamin K
Hospital blood UK
What happens donated blood (Red cross)
How Does Blood Donation Work? (BBC)

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