Nursing Resources - Learn About Blood and Blood Donation

Blood Cells.

Blood is what humans and other vertebrates need for life. It is comprised of four parts: red cells, white cells, platelets, and plasma. Plasma is slightly more than half of blood’s total composition. It is a yellowish, clear fluid that carries the blood cells as well as nutrients, cell waste materials, clotting agents, hormones, and other matter that helps the body maintain its fluid balance. The red cells carry oxygen away from the heart and to the body through the arteries. White blood cells are the infection-fighters, and platelets help the blood to clot.

The red cells also contain hemoglobin, which is a protein that makes these cells red. When oxygen is inhaled, the hemoglobin transports that oxygen throughout the body, and then returns carbon dioxide to the lungs so that it can be exhaled. The white cells are slightly larger than the red cells. White cells produce a protein that helps the body fight bacterial infections and viruses. These proteins are called antibodies. Platelets are actually cell particles that produce chemical agents that clot the blood so that blood will stop flowing from the injury site.

  • Blood Make-up – See this site for information on the composition of blood.
  • Basics of Blood – At this site you’ll find details on what blood is made of, and links to other related info.
  • Blood – Find out how the body makes it, and how it clots.
  • FAQs on Blood – This site provides a lot of information on blood, who should never donate, and why.
  • 4 Parts of Blood – See what a platelet looks like and the percentage of the blood platelets make up.

Blood Types are used to classify blood based on substances called antigens that are present, or not. These antigens could be carbohydrates, proteins, or other substances. These components will determine the compatibility between two blood types if transfusion becomes necessary. In the chart below, see how common, and uncommon, certain blood types are in various countries.

ABO and Rh Distribution by Country

Country

Population

O+

A+

B

AB+

O-

A-

B-

AB-

Australia

21,000,000

40%

31%

5%

2%

9%

7%

2%

1%

Austria

8,210,281

30%

33%

12%

6%

7%

8%

3%

1%

Belgium

10,414,336

38%

34%

8.5%

4.1%

7%

6%

1.5%

0.8%

Brazil

198,739,269

36%

34%

8%

2.5%

9%

8%

2%

0.5%

Canada

33,487,208

39%

36%

7.6%

2.5%

7%

6%

1.4%

0.5%

Denmark

5,500,510

35%

37%

8%

4%

6%

7%

2%

1%

Estonia

1,299,371

30%

31%

20%

6%

4.5%

4.5%

3%

1%

Finland

5,250,275

27%

38%

15%

7%

4%

6%

2%

1%

France

62,150,775

36%

37%

9%

3%

6%

7%

1%

1%

Germany

82,329,758 

35%

37%

9%

4%

6%

6%

2%

1%

Hong Kong

7,055,071

40%

26%

27%

7%

0.31%

0.19%

0.14%

0.05%

Hungary

10,198,315

31%

38%

18.8%

12.2%

       

Iceland

306,694

47.6%

26.4%

9.3%

1.6%

8.4%

4.6%

1.7%

0.4%

India

1,166,079,217

36.5%

22.1%

30.9%

6.4%

2.0%

0.8%

1.1%

0.2%

Ireland

4,203,200

47%

26%

9%

2%

8%

5%

2%

1%

Israel

7,233,701

32%

34%

17%

7%

3%

4%

2%

1%

Netherlands

16,715,999

39.5%

35%

6.7%

2.5%

7.5%

7%

1.3%

0.5%

New Zealand

4,213,418

38%

32%

9%

3%

9%

6%

2%

1%

Norway

4,660,539

34%

40.8%

6.8%

3.4%

6%

7.2%

1.2%

0.6%

Poland

38,482,919

31%

32%

15%

7%

6%

6%

2%

1%

Portugal

10,707,924

36.2%

39.8%

6.6%

2.9%

6.0%

6.6%

1.1%

0.5%

Saudi Arabia

28,686,633

48%

24%

17%

4%

4%

2%

1%

0.23%

South Africa

49,320,000

39%

32%

12%

3%

7%

5%

2%

1%

Spain

48,125,002

36%

34%

8%

2.5%

9%

8%

2%

0.5%

Sweden

9,433,875 

32%

37%

10%

5%

6%

7%

2%

1%

Taiwan

24,000,000

43.9%

25.9%

23.9%

6.0%

0.1%

0.1%

0.01%

0.02%

Turkey

76,805,524

22.8%

30.8%

14.2%

7.2%

3.7%

4.8%

1.6%

0.8%

United Kingdom

61,113,205

37%

35%

8%

3%

7%

7%

2%

1%

Ukraine

45,706,120

 

~40%

~10%

         

United States

307,212,123

37.4%

35.7%

8.5%

3.4%

6.6%

6.3%

1.5%

0.6%

Population-weighted mean

(total population = 2,261,025,244)

36.44%

28.27%

20.59%

5.06%

4.33%

3.52%

1.39%

0.45%

In the chart below, see the various blood types exhibited by a donor. When matched with the recipient, a yes or no indicates whether the two types make a compatible match in the event of a transfusion.

Recipient

                                                                DONOR

O-

O+

A-

A+

B-

B+

AB-

AB+

O-

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

O+

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

No

A-

Yes

No

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

A+

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

B-

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

No

No

No

B+

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

AB-

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

AB+

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Why donate blood?

Most people donate blood as a way to “give back” and help someone who may desperately need blood, after an automobile accident, or injury. Others may be specifically asked, perhaps by a friend or a relative. Most people have their own very personal reasons for donating blood. A reason is not required, and it could make a life-and-death difference to someone someday.

  • Give Blood – Here’s the American Red Cross site on how to host a blood drive or find a donation location.
  • Blood Facts  – More info on the parts of blood.
  • Donation – This web page gives information about donating blood, umbilical cord blood, and bone marrow, as well as living organ donations.
  • Transfusion Info – University of California San Francisco gives some good information on blood transfusions and the associated risks.
  • Using your OWN blood – For those anticipating surgery, there are ways to eliminate some of the risks of transfusion by making what’s called autologous donation of blood to be used in your operation.
  • Advancements in Transfusion Safety – American Society of Hematology explains the process of risk management in transfusions.
  • Sickle Cell Anemia – Statistics are found here at Sickle Cell Information Center’s website; most sickle cell-afflicted children require a minimum of one transfusion before they reach 11 years old.
  • Who Can, and Who Shouldn’t – At this site you’ll find information as to who is eligible to donate, and why others aren’t; who writes these policies?
  • The Need for Blood – Visit this site for information regarding “designated,” “allogeneic,” and “autologous” donation, and a generous amount of other info.
  • Safe Blood – Read how the blood supply is kept from pathogen infection.

Screening

Blood is screened using a variety of tests that look for the presence of certain substances connected to hepatitis C. Since 1985, blood donations in the U.S. have been tested for HIV-1 and HIV-2. A number of questions are asked of each potential donor also in preparation for blood donation. These questions ask about sexual history and activity as a way to prescreen for possible presence of infection.

Blood Transfusion Complications

Years ago, infections, especially HIV infections, were passed from donated blood to a recipient. Today, there are numerous tests that donated blood undergoes to ensure its safety. However, adverse effects can and do happen, sometimes immediately, and sometimes after a few or even several hours. The most common is an allergic reaction to the plasma proteins in the donated blood. Skin itching and hives are seen frequently; treatment is fairly simple and is usually done with antihistamines. There are other reactions that are much more serious, and some can be deadly.

One such reaction is called TRALI, or transfusion related acute lung injury. The odds of occurrence are slim – one in 5,000. It can show itself within a couple of hours of transfusion, or even as long as 72 hours afterward. Difficulty breathing is a primary symptom. With the delayed form of this reaction, death occurs in about 40 percent of patients.

Additional Resources

  • Donating Plasma – At this site, you’ll find a lot of information about donating plasma and how it’s done.
  • Blood Types – See what blood types you can receive in the chart at this web page.
  • Why Donate? - You’ll find out why it’s so important, and there are links with info about the donation process.
  • Apheresis – Find out what it is and how to donate.
  • Disaster Response - Find out how a disaster is defined regarding blood supply.
  • World Blood Donor Day – Read about this annual event hosted by a different country each year.
  • Umbilical Cord Blood – You can learn more about this and what hospitals around the country are equipped for public storage.
  • Checklist – Here’s a great resource to help plan a blood drive using the Red Cross Mobile bus.
  • Be The Match – Visit this site of National Marrow Donor Program for information on the importance of registry.
  • Blood Supply Safety – Here is information on blood safety and availability including key facts and global data.
  • Blood Illnesses and Disorders – At this site you’ll find a guide on blood disorders from A-Z.

 

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