Blood transfusion is one of the most common medical procedures and can be lifesaving. In the US, approximately 11 million units of red blood cells (RBCs), 2.5 million units of platelets, 2.2 million units of plasma, and 1.2 million units of cryoprecipitate are transfused annually.1
Prior to donation, blood donors are screened for eligibility with a health history questionnaire, targeted physical examination, and measurement of hemoglobin level. Donated blood is most commonly collected as whole blood. A whole blood donation yields 1 unit of RBCs and 1 unit of plasma. Its platelet component may be pooled with platelets from 3 to 4 other donors to prepare a therapeutic dose of platelets. Blood collection can also be performed by apheresis, which uses a special machine to collect multiple specific blood components (RBCs, plasma, platelets, and/or white blood cells). Most transfusions are provided as blood components, which allows whole blood to be transfused to more than 1 individual, targets transfusions to patients’ specific needs, and facilitates optimal storage of each blood component. The Figure summarizes important characteristics of blood and its components.2
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Corresponding Author: Beth H. Shaz, MD, MBA, Duke University, 9400 Pratt St, Ste 9011, Durham, NC 27705 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Shaz reported other (Department of Defense [advisor, Chilled Platelet Study]); and royalties from Elsevier outside the submitted work. No other disclosures were reported.
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