Blood safety

Our commitment to safety

Canada’s blood supply is recognized as one of the safest in the world. Safety is paramount in everything we do, because lives depend on it.  

We are mandated to provide Canada with a safe, secure and affordable system of blood and blood components. Since we began managing Canada’s blood system in 1998, there has not been a single recorded instance of blood-borne infection from either hepatitis C or HIV.

 

Safety at every step in the process

For every whole blood donation, the donor is first screened to make sure they are 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. 

Donor screening

For every whole blood donation, the donor is first screened to make sure they are 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.

Sterile conditions

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.

Testing

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.

Despite its sophistication, no test is 100 per cent perfect. In addition, tests can fail for technical reasons or because the pathogen has mutated. That’s why we rely on our donors to be honest about their exposure risks when completing the donor eligibility screening criteria, which is part of a multi-tiered safety system designed to protect patients.

Production

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.

Storage

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.

Monitoring

Our laboratory staff tracks all product inventory and fill orders as they arrive—retrieving, checking, packing and shipping blood products to hospitals.

Transfusion

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

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