Everyone is familiar to some degree with blood, the liquid in our bodies that carries oxygen, removes waste, and is an important part of our immune system. It is collected by blood collection centers, in mobile blood collection facilities in the parking lot of churches and malls. Blood is everywhere: In vampire movies, featured in medical dramas, and of course, horror movies. However, it is much more than the red liquid that comes from our bodies or the life stuff of vampires, and an important part of medical research. Biological blood products actually make up two different classes of life saving products:
1) Cellular Tissue Products
Biological blood products also extend to other areas of the body including several different types of tissue. Examples of such tissues are bone, skin, corneas, ligaments, tendons, dura mater, heart valves, hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells derived from peripheral and cord blood, oocytes and semen, according to the US Food and Drug Administration. These cellular tissues are collected, implanted, and used to heal the sick, provide research materials, and/or banked for later use.
2) Whole Blood and Blood Components
Whole blood is a liquid that consists of several main ingredients: Plasma, which is about 55% of human blood, is the transporting agent. Red blood cells have the task of providing oxygen to the body after it leaves the lungs, and white blood cells are transported throughout the body to help fight foreign invaders such as bacteria or viral agents. Typically, whole blood is collected through donation and then separated into its components by centrifuge or gravity.
Biological blood products are used in several different ways, depending upon from where it is harvested, and the specific need. They are invaluable when it comes to researching illnesses such as AIDS, cellular therapies, and cell creation and growth, and are used when massive amounts of blood have been lost either through illness, or a traumatic event. Blood is also cycled through the body when the normal mechanisms for filtration, such as kidneys, are not working properly.
Biological blood products are often banked for later use, in both public and private medical facilities. These facilities sometimes collect the blood products, store them, and distribute them to other medical facilities that use them for research and therapy. These facilities are held to strict standards as governed by the USDA for sample purity, consistency from sample to sample, and screened for communicable diseases. These standards ensure that the biological blood products you or your loved one receives are of the highest quality and safe to use.
Blood products are important to medical research, and used daily in hospitals, private care facilities, and in-home care. They are both the key to sickness and health. Understanding what these products are and how they figure into one’s quality of life goes a long way to understanding individual health and well being.