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Component of Blood

When we receive your donation we separate it into individual components by spinning it in a machine called a centrifuge. The individual components are red cells, white cells, platelets and plasma. These can all be put to different uses.

Red blood cells: The main function of red blood cells is to distribute oxygen to body tissues and to carry waste carbon dioxide back to the lungs.Red cell transfusions are used to replace heavy blood loss (e.g. trauma, surgery, childbirth) or to correct severe anaemia when the bone marrow is not producing enough red cells (e.g. chemotherapy, leukaemia and thalassaemia). Anaemia is when your haemoglobin levels are lower than normal.There are of course different ways of treating red cells. Generally, they're all filtered to remove the white blood cells. Red cells are then frozen to be used at a later date. This is actually an extremely expensive and time-consuming process for us, so we only adopt it for rare blood groups.

White blood cells: Seen here are two lymphocyte (left) cells and one neutrophil (right) cell of the human immune system.White blood cells fight infection and are part of the body’s defence system. White cell transfusions can be given to patients suffering from life-threatening infections whose normal defence mechanisms don’t seem to be responding to antibiotics.

Platelets: Platelets, or thrombocytes, are a constituent of the blood formed in the bone marrow. These tiny fragments of cells are crucial in helping your blood to clot. If your platelet level is very low then you may suffer a lot from bruising and bleeding.

Plasma: Everybody thinks that blood is red but the truth is that it's only the red blood cells that make it appear that way. Take them away (and the other cellular components) and you're left with plasma, a yellow coloured fluid that carries all blood cells. We process this to extract other products such as: AlbuminThis protein is really useful when treating anyone who's been severely shocked or burned, o or anyone who's lost large amounts of blood.Clotting factors One of the major agents in plasma is Factor VIII. It helps anyone whose blood doesn't clot properly.