Blood comprises various components: red blood cells (erythrocytes), plasma and platelets (thrombocytes). A patient only receives the component that he requires.
In some cases, it is better for the patient that the donor gives these components separately. That is why, in addition to blood, you can also give other types of donations: plasma, platelets or stem cells.
As a plasma donor, you only donate plasma, which consists primarily of fluid and proteins. You can only be a plasma donor if you are already a blood donor.
- Plasma (in its entirety) is administered to patients with burns or severe blood loss.
- Plasma is used to make medicines.
There are platelets (thrombocytes) in every blood donation. This allows us to help patients who cannot make enough platelets themselves. These patients often have a malignant blood disease, like leukaemia, and are undergoing radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
Sometimes a transfusion of random platelets does not help, because the patient's body immediately breaks down the donor's platelets. In such cases, we ask a donor to give blood platelets that exactly match the patient's. You can only donate platelets if you are already a blood or plasma donor.
Donating stem cells
Stem cells are cells that give rise to new cells, and are found in the bone marrow cavities of our bones. Blood stem cells make cells you can find in your blood: red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets (thrombocytes). Patients with malignant blood diseases are sometimes best treated with a transplant of healthy stem cells from a donor.
Life-saving stem cells come from a donor with stem cells that are as similar as possible to the patient's own. Are you a blood or plasma donor (at least 1 donation), healthy, and aged between 18 and 51 years, then you can register as a stem cell donor.
Cord blood donation
In Leiden, where the Sanquin Cord Blood Bank is established, we store stem cells from umbilical cord blood. The cord blood is donated directly after the baby is born, once the umbilical cord has been cut. It is entirely painless and without any risk.
Donating blood for yourself
If you need a blood transfusion, it may be desirable to use your own blood. During autologous blood donation, you donate blood for yourself a few times prior to the operation.
An autologous blood donation is possible with Sanquin Blood Supply under a certain circumstances, for example for a planned operation. In order to qualify for autologous blood donation, your doctor must submit a request to the blood bank.