The journey of a blood donation

Have you ever wondered what happens to a donation once you have given it? Here’s what happens to a whole blood donation when it leaves one of our blood donation venues.

Whole blood donations from the donation venue are transported by NHS Blood and Transplant vehicles to the blood centre, where the donations are sorted and registered.

The donations are sent to the manufacturing area, while each donor’s blood samples are sent to be tested.

In manufacturing the white blood cells are filtered out of each donation. Each blood donation is broken down into its separate component parts using a centrifuge. Red blood cells, plasma, or platelets are extracted using specialised machines.

All the different components are sent to their specific holding areas where they will be quarantined until all the required testing is completed.

At the same time the samples are being tested in the lab. Each donation is tested to find out the donors blood group and compared against your records if you’ve donated before. The donations are also checked for viruses to help ensure that each donation is safe to transfuse to patients.

Once all the testing is complete and passed, each pack of blood can be labelled and placed into controlled storage, ready to be sent to hospitals.

Our professional drivers provide cover 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure blood gets to where it is needed. 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.

Because each blood donation is split into its component parts, your one donation can help to save or improve the lives of up to three people. 

Now you know what happens to your blood why not make an appointment to donate.