There are three main components that make up our blood- red blood cells, plasma and platelets. Often, these components are separated to provide the most appropriate treatment to the one in every three Australians who require blood, or blood products, in their lifetime. We checked out the information available at The Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS, 2013) and the Better Health Channel (2013) to bring you our run-through of what you’re donating and how it is used:
Red Blood Cells
These are the cells that carry oxygen through your blood and, at 42 days, have the longest shelf life of all the components. Most blood recipients receive these in order to boost the oxygen-carrying abilities of their blood. The majority of donated blood goes to people with cancer, those who are undergoing surgery, as well as those who have been suffered a severe accident and/or burns.
Plasma is the liquid component of blood that holds the cells in suspension. It makes up about 55 per cent and contains important proteins, nutrients and clotting factors which are integral to preventing and stopping bleeding. ARCBS recognises it as “the most versatile component of your blood [as] donated plasma makes up to 17 life-saving products that help patients with trauma, burns and blood diseases.” Plasma can be stored for up to one year after the day of donation.
Platelets are essential for ensuring the blood can clot in patients with a low platelet count or non-functioning platelets. They can be stored for up to five says and the ARCBS says that this usually aids those who are bleeding, or are at a high risk of bleeding, as a result of high dose chemotherapy, bone marrow transplantation, major surgery, liver disease or severe trauma and haemorrhaging. Platelets also contribute to the repair of damaged body tissue.
Of course, all these components have an expiry date, so to speak, and continuous donations are needed to ensure a constant supply of blood and blood products. If you are an eligible donor, please consider donating today. Check out http://www.donateblood.com.au for more information and to book an appointment.