What happens to my blood donation?

One frequent question we get asked at the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center on a regular basis is “What happens to my donation?”

If you make a whole blood donation – the most common type – your blood is separated into three components: red cells, platelets and plasma. Each are used by doctors for different treatments. You also can donate just platelets or red cells.

Following guidance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, all donations are tested for infectious agents like HIV and hepatitis C by QualTex Laboratories, which like STBTC is a subsidiary of BioBridge Global. In its most recent survey of blood collections and transfusions, the AABB (the blood banks’ trade association) reported that only 0.7% of donations were rejected because of positive test results for infectious diseases.

Once red cells and platelets are cleared and delivered to the hospital, the blood helps hospitals with cancer patients, moms and newborns, accident victims and many other patients.

Here’s a breakdown of how red cells are used, according to the AABB survey:

  • 28.5%: General medicine
  • 19.9%: Surgery
  • 19.2%: Cancer treatment
  • 12.5%: Intensive care unit
  • 9.5%: Emergency room
  • 4.3%: Pediatrics
  • 2.3%: Kidney treatment
  • 2.2%: Obstetrics and gynecology
  • 1.6%: Organ transplants

And here’s how platelets are used:

  • 43.6%: Cancer treatment
  • 15.9%: Surgery
  • 13.0%: Intensive care unit
  • 12.8%: General medicine
  • 7.9%: Pediatrics
  • 3.4%: Emergency room
  • 2.4%: Organ transplants
  • 0.5%: Obstetrics and gynecology
  • 0.3%: Kidney treatment

Noah Adams

When Noah found out he had cancer, he only hesitated for a moment.

“For the first two seconds that I heard that I had cancer, my heart dropped,” Noah said. “Those two seconds went by and I thought, ‘Well, I gotta beat it now.’”

A senior at Central Catholic High School, Noah was diagnosed during the COVID-19 pandemic. But quarantine has not stopped the community’s support for him. Friends and family coordinated a 40-car parade for him, and he continues to receive encouraging messages every day.

“You never thought that just this one child in this one situation can reach that far,” his mother Debi said.

The far-reaching support may be inspired by Noah’s giving nature. When asked what his wish was, instead of making a wish for himself, he wanted to give his friends something. They all received new PS5s that the group of friends plan to use to stay connected with each other while Noah undergoes treatment.

Noah also wants to give to other patients like him.

“There’s this kid, he’s probably about 2 years old,” Noah said. “He has the awesome smile…”

“To think that a two-year-old kid who is going through this type of cancer and may not have that type of blood transfusion… I feel like I have to do something to try and help him.”

To beat his cancer, Noah chose to undergo a rotationplasty surgery—a procedure that will remove the tumor while allowing Noah to maintain an active lifestyle with a prosthetic. He needed blood donations during and after the surgery, and may continue to need more as he undergoes chemotherapy treatment for another seven months.

Even through surgery and treatment, Noah’s positive outlook and generosity continues to impress everyone around him.

Donate blood in honor of Noah and other brave patients like him. Schedule an appointment by visiting SouthTexasBlood.org or calling 210-731-5590.