When you donate blood to the Red Cross, you’ll give enough blood to fill a blood bag plus several small tubes. In order to keep track of your donation, your tubes, your blood bag, and your donor record all receive an identical bar code label. The tubes are sent to an American Red Cross National Testing Laboratory where they are spun in a centrifuge to separate the liquid portion (serum) from the cells (white cells and red cells). The cell portion is used to determine your blood type, and the serum is tested for viral diseases. Test results usually are transferred electronically via computer within 24 hours. Blood donations that are found to have a positive test for infectious diseases are destroyed. If the donor’s health is in question, he or she is notified and may be counseled. Blood donations that pass testing are manufactured into various blood products in an American Red Cross laboratory. Red blood cells, platelets, and plasma are labeled and stored until they are shipped to hospitals for transfusion to patients.
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