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Donated Blood's Journey

What happens to my donation after I give? 

As soon as your blood donation has been collected at a Nebraska Community Blood Bank donor center or community-sponsored blood drive, it is processed and prepared for patient transfusions—a process that ensures that the blood is safe, and that the right blood type and product is available for the right patient.

Your blood's journey

Preparing your blood

After your unit of blood is collected—along with several small vials used for testing—your blood donation is labeled and then transported to our component laboratory. The small vials for testing are transported to the donor testing laboratory.

Separating blood components

Whole blood donations are separated into three essential components—red cells, platelets, and plasma.


Your blood is typed, which includes identifying the ABO type and a positive or negative Rh factor, and each vial of blood is tested for safety, including tests for:

  • HBV (Hepatitis B Virus) 
  • HCV (Hepatitis C Virus) 
  • HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) 
  • HTLV (Human T-cell Lymphotropic Virus) 
  • Syphilis 
  • Unexpected red cell antibodies that the donor may have formed in response to an earlier exposure to blood, through either transfusion or pregnancy 
  • West Nile Virus (WNV) 
  • Sickle cell trait (performed on donors enrolling in the sickle cell program) 

No blood is released by Nebraska Community Blood Bank for transfusion without passing the required tests. Although it is rare to find donated blood that may transmit infection, those units of blood that are reactive for viral markers are not released for transfusion. A combination of pre-donation screening and rigorous testing ensures the safety of blood supplied by Nebraska Community Blood Bank. In addition, as a safety precaution, we maintain a list of ineligible blood donors and check donors against this list before allowing them to give blood.

Storage and transport

After your blood has been divided, passed all tests, and been properly typed and labeled, it is stored in large refrigerators and freezers. It is now ready for distribution to hospitals and to the patients whose lives will be saved or sustained by this generous gift. 

The blood components are carefully packed in special temperature-controlled containers and then transported via Nebraska Community Blood Bank’s delivery trucks or authorized couriers to our partner hospitals.

Transfusing your blood to patients in need

The final step in your donated blood’s journey is when the right type of donation you have made reaches the right patient—typically within 10 days. Consider the need and the lives you can save by matching your donation to the blood component patients need most.

Typical # of units

Patient in NeedRed Blood CellsPlatelets*Plasma
 Accident victim  40-50  10-40 2-25 
 Heart transplant recipient 40      30  25 
 Cardiac surgery patient 2-6 2-10 2-4 
 Premature baby 1-4, type O --- ---
 Cancer patient 10-20  10-50 ---
 Sickle cell fighter 10-15 --- ---
 Severe burn victim 2-1020 20

*More than 90% of platelet transfusions come from apheresis donations, rather than platelets derived from whole blood donations.