What is made of blood
The donated blood is never given to patients as such – instead it is divided into red cells, platelets and plasma. These are then produced into blood products for the treatment of patients.
Red cell products
Donated red cells are needed in hip surgeries, cardiac operations, organ transplants and other major operations. Furthermore, red cells are needed in the treatment of accident victims or mothers who have given birth and lost a lot of blood.
Red cells are also given to patients who suffer from severe anaemia due to cancer or renal failure. If the anaemia is chronic, the patient can receive regular red cell transfers.
Donated platelets or thrombocytes are needed to prevent and treat bleeding.
Platelets are given to patients suffering from leukaemia whose own bone marrow does not produce platelets due to heavy cancer treatments. They can also be given to surgical patients and accident victims in connection with major bleeding.
Since platelets form only a small portion of blood, the platelet volume collected from one whole blood donor is not enough for a ready product. Each platelet product given to a patient needs platelets from four donors with the same blood group. Read about donating platelets.
Plasma-derived preparations and medicinal products
Plasma contains several important constituents: antibodies, coagulation factors and other proteins needed to stop bleeding. Necessary constituents can be separated from plasma and produced into medicinal products. For example, coagulation factors can be condensed from plasma and used to help haemophiliacs live almost normal lives. Plasma-derived protein, albumin, can be given to burn and shock patients and plasma immunoglobulins used in medicines for patients with immunodeficiency and for the prevention of inflammatory diseases.
Plasma separated from blood donated in Finland is sent to Central Europe to be used as raw materials for such medicines. The current partner of the Blood Service in manufacturing plasma-derived medicinal products is the pharmaceutical company Baxalta, part of Takeda, which focuses on plasma-derived medicines for the treatment of severe disorders. Hospitals in Finland purchase medicinal products for patient use from pharmaceutical distributors.
Fresh-frozen plasma is needed for patients who have lost a lot of blood in surgery or in an accident. FRCBS distributes Octapharma’s octaplas products to hospitals.
Leukocytes can be given to patients who suffer from a deficiency of leukocytes. Also, leukocytes are given as treatment in life-threatening infections that do not respond to antibiotic treatment. Leukocyte products are only prepared to order and donors are invited separately for this purpose.