Blood products are a critical component of health care, essential in medical treatments such as blood transfusions and organ transplants. In addition to helping save lives, these products can be used for various other medical purposes, from diagnosis to treatment. But what exactly are blood products? What types exist, and how do they differ?
In this blog post, we will explore the different blood product types available today, examining their roles in healthcare – from plasma to red cells – so that you have a better understanding of the importance (and potential dangers) of using them in everyday medicine.
Table of Contents
What is the Function of Blood?
Blood carries the following to the body tissues:
- Immune cells (cells that fight infection)
Blood carries the following away from the body tissues:
- Waste matter
- Carbon dioxide
Types of Blood Products
Blood products are often grouped into two categories –
- Whole blood
- Cellular components of blood.
Whole blood is not as commonly used for medical purposes as its separate components. However, in cases of trauma or due to massive bleeding, this form of blood can aid in saving the patient’s life. A unit of whole blood consists of approximately 450-500ml volume and has all the original elements present from which it is composed.
Cellular Components of Blood:
1) Red Cells: Red cells are a type of blood cell that carries oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body. They makeup about 40% of the total volume of whole blood and can be used for transfusions, which replenish lost red cells due to various conditions such as anemia or Ebola virus disease.
2) White Cells: White cells are found in small numbers in whole blood, making up 1-5% of its total volume. These cells fight infection and have many different types with specialized roles – such as B cells which produce antibodies, or T cells, which attack foreign bodies. White cells can also be used for transfusions to help patients whose white cell count is too low due to radiation treatments or chemotherapy, among other causes. Types of white blood cells include:
3) Platelets: Platelets are found in the most minor numbers of any component of whole blood, making up only 1% of its volume. They help stop bleeding by forming clots and can be used for platelet transfusions to treat conditions such as leukemia or aplastic anemia.
4) Plasma: The liquid part of the whole blood holds all other components together. It makes up about 55% of the total volume and is rich in proteins and antibodies that help fight infection. This component can also be used for plasma transfusions to replace lost fluids due to burns or trauma-related injuries.
5) Cryoprecipitate: Cryoprecipitate is a frozen product made from plasma that is rich in clotting factors. It can help prevent and treat excessive bleeding due to a lack of platelets or other clotting factors, such as hemophilia.
6 ) Cryo-poor Plasma: Cryo-poor Plasma is a relatively new type of plasma product that does not contain as many clotting factors as cryoprecipitate but still contains proteins, antibodies, and nutrients essential for normal body functioning. It can be used to treat people with protein deficiencies or clotting disorders.
Where Do Blood Components Obtain From?
Blood components are obtained from blood from volunteer blood donors. Blood donation programs allow blood to be donated by:
- A patient for themselves
- Anonymous donors
- In some cases, someone specified by the patient
Cryoprecipitate vs. FFP
Cryoprecipitate and Fresh Frozen Plasma (FFP) come from plasma but have different uses.
Cryoprecipitate consists of a specific set of clotting factors that can help stop bleeding, while FFP consists of the entire plasma fraction with all its components intact. As such,
FFP is typically used for treating various conditions, including anemia and liver failure. Additionally, FFP can also be used to replace lost fluids due to trauma or burn injuries.
What are Transfusions of Packed Red Blood Cells (PRBCs)?
Blood transfusions have been a necessary medical procedure for many years. One type of transfusion is the transfusion of packed red blood cells or PRBCs. These transfusions can help patients who have lost significant amounts of blood due to surgery, trauma, or other medical conditions. PRBCs are specifically designed to increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, which can improve a patient’s overall health.
The process has come a long way from the early days of blood transfusions, with safety being a top priority for medical professionals. While there are risks involved with any medical procedure, PRBC transfusions are generally considered safe and can help improve the quality of life for those in need.
Blood products are an essential part of health care, aiding in diagnosing and treating various medical conditions. Many different types are available today, ranging from whole blood to cellular components such as red cells, white cells, platelets, plasma, cryoprecipitate, and cryo-poor plasma.
Each type serves its purpose and can help to save or improve the lives of those in need. It is essential to understand how these products are obtained, their potential risks and benefits, and when they should be used to ensure they are used for suitable patients at the right time.
We hope this blog post has helped to provide you with a better understanding of blood products and their role in healthcare. If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Mrs. Marie Brown has been a registered nurse for over 25 years. She began her nursing career at a Level I Trauma Center in downtown Chicago, Illinois. There she worked in the Emergency Department and on the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. After several years, she moved to the Midwest and continued her nursing career in a critical care setting. For the last 10 years of her nursing career, Mrs. Brown worked as a flight nurse with an air ambulance service. During this time, she cared for patients throughout the United States.