Blood transfusion safety

Processing of donated blood

Processing of donated blood

91% of the blood collected in high-income countries, 72% of that in middle-income countries and 31% of that in low-income countries is separated into components.

Blood collected in an anticoagulant can be stored and transfused to a patient in an unmodified state. This is known as ‘whole blood’ transfusion. However, blood may be used more effectively if component therapy is practiced. One unit of donated blood may be divided into components, including red cell concentrates, fresh frozen plasma, cryoprecipitate and platelet concentrates, to meet the needs of more than one patient.

For a safe and effective blood component processing, the following elements are required:

  • Commitment and support by national health authorities for a sustainable, well-organized, nationally co-ordinated blood transfusion service, with adequate resources and quality system for all areas;
  • Centralization of blood processing and testing within major centres to permit economies of scale by maximizing utilization of personnel and equipment and uniform standards;
  • Effective and timely testing of all donated blood to ensure maximum safety and availability of blood components;
  • Promotion of appropriate blood component therapy.

Consideration should be given to the use of surplus plasma for the production of plasma-derived medicinal products through fractionation, utilizing facilities either within or outside the country.

Related topics

Related documents

Aide-mémoire: safe blood components

Contact information

Blood Transfusion Safety
Department for Health Systems Policies and Workforce
World Health Organization-Headquarters
20 Avenue Appia
1211, Geneva 27
Switzerland