What Are Blood Products? A Guide to Life-Saving Treatments

Blood products are essential in the medical industry, and they are primarily used to treat patients who have suffered from blood loss, whether it be due to injury, surgery, or disease. These products serve as life-saving treatments, and are used in a variety of situations. They are derived from human blood and are often used to replace lost or damaged blood components in patients.

There are several types of blood products available, each with its unique properties, uses, and benefits. It is important for anyone in the medical field to understand the role that blood products play in managing patient care.

What are Blood Products?

Blood products are derived from the blood of humans, and they consist of several different components. These components are isolated and purified to create specific products, each with its unique properties and benefits.

Blood products can be broadly categorized into:

  • Red blood cells:
  • Platelets:
  • Fresh frozen plasma:
  • Cryoprecipitate:

Red blood cells: These are made up of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to the body’s tissues. They are primarily used to replace red blood cells in patients who have lost significant amounts of blood. This type of blood product is also used to treat anemia.

Platelets: Platelets are fragments of cells that are involved in blood clotting. They are used to prevent bleeding in patients with low platelet count, or individuals who are on anticoagulant medication.

Fresh frozen plasma: This is the liquid portion of the blood, separated from the red blood cells. It contains clotting proteins and is used to treat patients with bleeding disorders.

Cryoprecipitate: Cryoprecipitate is the fraction of the plasma that precipitates when it is frozen and then thawed. It is rich in fibrinogen, factor VIII, von Willebrand factor, and other clotting proteins, and is used to treat bleeding disorders.

Why are Blood Products necessary?

Blood products are necessary for many reasons. They are primarily used to manage patients who have suffered significant blood loss due to injury, surgery, or disease. Blood products are also used to treat patients with clotting disorders, such as hemophilia.

Without blood products, many medical procedures would be impossible to perform, and many lives would be lost. Blood products are essential in the management of patients in the emergency room, during surgery, or in the critical care units.

How are Blood Products collected?

In most countries, blood products are collected from voluntary donors. The process of blood donation is relatively simple, and it involves drawing blood from donors, separating the components, and processing them into separate products.

Donors must meet certain criteria, including age and weight restrictions, and must be in good health to donate blood. Donated blood is then tested for infectious diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis, to ensure the safety of the blood products.

Types of Blood Donations

Blood donations can be broadly categorized into two types:

  • Whole blood donation
  • Apheresis donation

Whole blood donation: This is the most common type of blood donation, where a pint of blood is drawn from the donor. This type of donation is used to create multiple blood products.

Apheresis donation: Apheresis donation involves the separation of specific blood components from the donor’s blood. This allows the collection of specific blood components, such as platelets or red blood cells.

How are Blood Products Stored?

Once blood products have been processed, they are stored in specialized refrigerators or freezers to ensure their optimal storage conditions, which are needed to maintain their quality and efficacy.

Storage times and temperatures may vary, depending on the type of blood product.

Storage Times and Temperatures of Blood Products

Blood Product Storage Time Storage Temperature
Red Blood Cells Up to 42 days 1°C to 6°C
Platelets Up to 5 days 20°C to 24°C with continuous agitation
Fresh Frozen Plasma Up to 1 year -18°C or lower
Cryoprecipitate Up to 1 year -18°C or lower

How are Blood Products Administered?

Blood products are administered through an intravenous line in most cases. In some situations, they may also be administered via a transfusion. Intravenous administration is preferred because it allows for precise dosing and can be titrated to the patient’s needs.

While blood products are life-saving treatments, they are not without risks. Patients who receive blood products are monitored for signs of adverse reactions, such as fever, chills, hives, and itching.


Blood products play a vital role in managing patient care, and they are essential in the treatment of many medical conditions. The use of blood products has revolutionized the medical industry, enabling many life-saving treatments that were once impossible.

With advancements in technology and blood product processing, the safety and efficacy of blood products have significantly improved, ensuring that patients receive the best possible care.

Common Questions and Answers

  • What is the most common blood product transfused?
  • The most common blood product transfused is red blood cells, which are used to treat anemia or blood loss.
  • Are there any risks associated with blood transfusions?
  • Yes, there are risks associated with blood transfusions, such as transfusion reactions, infections, and allergies.
  • What happens if a patient receives the wrong blood type?
  • If a patient receives the wrong blood type, it can lead to life-threatening complications, such as hemolysis, a condition where the body destroys the transfused red blood cells.
  • Is blood donation safe?
  • Yes, blood donation is safe when performed by a trained and licensed professional.
  • Can I donate blood after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine?
  • Yes, donors can donate blood after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. However, the American Red Cross suggests waiting at least 2 days after receiving the vaccine before donating blood.


1. AABB – Advancing Transfusion and Cellular Therapies Worldwide. Blood Basics. https://www.aabb.org/tm/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed 7th August 2021.

2. American Red Cross. Learn About Blood. https://www.redcrossblood.org/learn-about-blood.html. Accessed 7th August 2021.

3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Blood & Blood Products. https://www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/blood-blood-products. Accessed 7th August 2021.

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