Saturday, 19 May 2012

The Journey of a Unit of Blood

Staying with the theme of the BBC, they recently made a short film showing what happens to a unit of blood after it has been taken from a donor. The film features NBS Filton near Bristol, which is Europe’s largest blood manufacturing and processing unit.

The piece begins with the donors – something I am hoping to become in the coming weeks. There are two million donations made every year in the UK. The donated blood is refrigerated in a blood bank fridge before being sent on to regional processing centres, such as NBS Filton. The white blood cells are discarded and the rest is separated into red cells, platelets and plasma.

In the last year, the NBS sent out a quarter of a million units of platelets, over a third of a million units of frozen plasma and a little short of two million units of red cells to just England & Wales. I have been lucky enough to visit the blood banks of some of the finest hospitals in the Thames Valley this year. It is quite heart-warming to see how the generous donations of ordinary people are cared for and processed into life-saving packages. The blood bank fridges hold their precious contents until they are needed. The fact remains that none of us know when we might need such a wonderful gift.

The video can be viewed on the BBC website at

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