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.
Basic preparations of the Blood Service include leukocyte-free red cell and platelet preparations, and fresh frozen plasma. In addition, the Blood Service produces special products in accordance with orders from hospitals for child patients, for example.
All blood products – excluding plasma-derived medicinal products – are produced at the Kivihaka Blood Service Centre in Helsinki, mostly by hand. Because patients only receive the blood product they need in hospital, one blood donation can help as many as three patients.Red cell products for surgical patients
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. Read more about the tasks of red cells and donating red cells.
Platelet products for cancer patients
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 more on the tasks of platelets and donating platelets.
Plasma-derived preparations and medicinal products for surgical patients and haemophiliacs
Plasma contains several important constituents: antibodies, coagulation factors and other proteins needed to stop bleeding. Donated plasma is needed for patients who have lost a lot of blood in surgery or in an accident or who suffer from a serious liver disease. In addition, plasma is needed in the treatment of patients suffering from a coagulation factor deficiency or cancer, or in the replacement transfusion of newborns.
Necessary constituents can also 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. In turn, 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 can also be given as fresh frozen plasma, for example to patients suffering from a deficiency of multiple coagulation factors due to liver damage. Read more on the tasks of plasma and plasma donation.
Leukocyte products for patients suffering from inflammations
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.