Directed Donation

A “directed” blood donation occurs when a patient gets the opportunity to choose their blood donor! In general, a physician requests in writing that a particular person or persons donate blood specifically for a particular patient (typically, the donors are family members of the patient). This type of donation has substantially decreased in recent years, largely because of the fact that concerns about diseases like HIV and hepatitis C from blood transfusion have lessened.

Here’s the most important thing about directed donations: According to published data, they are NOT any more safe than getting blood from volunteer, allogeneic blood donors! In fact, directed blood donors have a higher rate of having reactive infectious disease tests than regular donors (due in part to the fact that directed donors are very commonly first-time blood donors). Blood bankers also worry that directed donors may feel pressure to donate, leading to a conscious or unconscious lack of transparency when answering the very detailed donor screening questions.

Directed donors must meet all the same requirements as allogeneic donors. As a result, the units may be released for general use if not transfused to the intended patient (this contrasts to autologous donations, which cannot be “crossed over” into regular inventory if unused). Finally, since directed donors are commonly family members, blood centers will most often irradiate all units from directed donors to prevent transfusion-associated graft vs. host disease.

For more on directed donations, please listen to episode 062 of the Blood Bank Guy Essentials Podcast!

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