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Donation Testing

At the time of each donation, blood samples are collected for testing.

What? Why?
ABO/Rh blood group To aid in selection of compatible units for patient transfusion.
Red blood cell antibody screen To determine the presence of unexpected antibodies to red blood cell antigens. If detected, the red blood cell antibody identity is indicated on the component label.
Extended red blood cell phenotype (selected donations) To aid in selection of compatible units for patient transfusion a portion of donations are tested for extended red blood cell antigens. These antigens may include minor blood group systems such as Rhesus (C, E, c, e), Kell (K), Duffy (Fya, Fyb), Kidd (Jka, Jkb) MNSs (S, s). The phenotype results will appear in the lower right hand quadrant of the red blood cell component end label, or may appear on an attached tag. See our Labels and Tags section for more details.
Infectious disease testing:
  • Human immunodeficiency virus 1 and 2 (HIV)
  • Hepatitis B virus (HBV)
  • Hepatitis C virus (HCV)
  • Human T-cell lymphotrophic virus I and II (HTLV)
  • Syphilis
  • West Nile virus (WNV)*
  • Chagas’ Disease **
To reduce the risk of disease transmission. See our Circular of Information, Warnings and Precautions section, for details. Before release for transfusion, a blood donation is tested and must be non-reactive for diseases known to be transmitted by transfusion (see left column).

* Performed when increased risk is present, see Customer Letter 2015-17
** Performed when increased risk is present, see Customer Letter 2010-13.

Selected donations may be also tested for cytomegalovirus (CMV) antibody, or the presence of Immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies for at-risk patients that may require blood components tested for CMV or IgA antibodies. Donations for further manufacturing into plasma protein products are also tested for Parvovirus B19.

Our routine process is that all platelet components are cultured for bacteria 36 hours after collection, and then held for six hours after bacteria culture bottle inoculation. Platelet components are issued to hospitals for transfusion only if the culture results are negative at the time of issue. Cultures are incubated for six days, and hospitals are notified if the component bacteria culture becomes positive. For further information on bacteria testing, see Customer Letters 2007-03 and 2017-31. Bacterial detection of pooled platelets using the Bacti/ALERT detection system was implemented as part of the buffy coat component production method implementation (Edmonton site pilot 2005, Vancouver site pilot 2007, and national rollout 2008). Bacterial detection of apheresis platelets using the Bacti/ALERT detection system was implemented in May 2004.

Additional information can be found in the Clinical Guide to Transfusion.