About Blood

Blood Testing & Safety

The blood supply is safer today than it ever has been. Strict screening practices in the selection of donors, as well as federal safety requirements for the testing, storage and transportation of blood, make America's blood supply as safe as modern technology can make it. While America's blood supply is very safe, blood transfusions are not risk-free.

Screening and Testing Procedures

  • Only people who are not at risk for an infectious disease can give blood. 
  • Donors must answer a series of detailed questions about their health and risk for diseases that can be passed through the blood supply such as HIV (the disease that causes AIDS) and the hepatitis C virus (HCV). 
  • After completing the health questionnaire, donors take a mini-physical to make sure they are not anemic, have a fever or have high blood pressure.
  • Each unit of donated blood (about one pint) goes through extensive testing to make sure it's safe for transfusion.
  • If you think your health or behavior (such as using intravenous drugs or having high risk sex partners) may pose a threat to the blood supply, you should not donate blood. 
  • You also should not give blood to be tested for HIV, HCV or any other disease that can be transmitted through the blood supply.
Blood _bag

In almost every case, the life-saving benefits of receiving a needed blood transfusion outweigh the possible risk of contracting an infectious disease. The risk of contracting HIV from a blood transfusion is less than one in 1.5 million. That is much less than the risk of dying from a lightning strike. Thanks to new blood testing procedures, the chance of getting HCV is about the same.


Recent Restrictions

2007 - Transfusion Related Acute Lung Injury

Women who have previously been pregnant are restricted from donating plasma to prevent transfusion of potentially deadly antibodies associated with Transfusion Related Acute Lung Injury (TRALI), the leading cause of transfusion-related deaths. 

These antibodies are found in the blood of about one in five women donors. They do not affect the health of the donor. They can react with the white blood cells of the transfusion recipient causing the lung tissue to allow fluid to enter, resulting in acute pulmonary edema.

2011 - 100% Single-donor Platelet Collection

Platelets produced at CBC are no longer recovered from random whole blood collections. Platelets must be stored at room temperature and are tested for bacterial infection after 48 hours. (As a result, two days are sacrificed from the 5 day life cycle).

2011 - Mandatory Testing for Chagas Disease

Chagas is named for Brazilian physician Dr. Carlos Chagas who in 1909 identified a blood-born parasite that causes a potentially life-threatening infection. Initial reaction to infection is mild, but if not treated Chagas becomes a lifelong illness that leads to serious muscle damage. Infection rates are highest in South America, but there have been positive cases in 47 US states. CBC began Chagas screening in December, 2011.