Safety Is Our Priority
Our primary concern is the safety of our donors and the blood products we provide. Thanks to our commitment to meeting national standards, Canada’s blood supply is recognized as one of the safest in the world. We carefully screen all prospective donors to minimize the potential for transmission of infectious diseases, and donated blood undergoes extensive testing for infectious diseases, blood groups and compatibility.
Blood products are classified as ‘biopharmaceuticals’ and must be manufactured in accordance with strict federal regulations as any drug, following Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
The Blood Safety Journey
For every whole blood donation, the donor is first screened to make sure he or she is healthy. This involves answering an extensive list of questions, ensuring the safety of both the donor and the patient who will receive the blood products.
Sterilization and testing
Blood donations are made under sterile conditions. We use a disinfecting agent to cleanse the donor's arm and a sterile, single-use needle to draw blood. The needle is inserted into a vein and the blood flows through plastic tubing to a sterile blood bag. When the donation is complete, several blood samples are taken to test for infectious diseases, blood groups and compatibility. The units and samples are sent to Canadian Blood Services laboratories for processing.
Read our 2016 Surveillance Report for more information.
Every unit of donated blood is sent to our production laboratory, where it is first assessed for suitability. A process called centrifugation separates the blood into red blood cells, plasma and—depending on hospital requirements—platelets and cryoprecipitate. Each unit of blood undergoes leukoreduction, a filtration process that removes white blood cells and reduces the chance of side effects such as chill or fever that could be harmful to a donation recipient.
All blood products are stored at the appropriate temperature and under appropriate conditions for quality and shelf life. When testing and production are complete, the products are released to inventory and made available for distribution to hospitals.
Our laboratory staff tracks all product inventory and fill orders as they arrive—retrieving, checking, packing and shipping blood products to hospitals.
When hospitals receive the blood products they need, they can fill doctors’ orders for patients who are:
- undergoing major surgery
- undergoing organ or bone marrow transplants
- being treated for trauma, cancer or other medical problems