Following the Spring Festival in mid-February, the city will begin collecting an important component of blood - platelets, which help blood clot and prevent bleeding - as well as whole blood.
"We're mainly focusing on platelets right now, since platelets are commonly used in clinical treatments. This move will enhance the utilization ratio of blood and ensure more patient safety," said Zou Zhengrong, the spokesman for the Shanghai Blood Center, which is running the program.
With regular blood transfusions, six to 10 donations are needed to get enough platelets for one patient.
But using donations of whole blood from different donors heightens the possibility of an adverse reaction for someone needing platelets, such as someone undergoing open-heart surgery or suffering from liver disease or even cancer.
The city currently separates out blood components - platelets, plasma, red and white blood cells - from the whole blood it collects, officials said.
"We have spent about 500,000 yuan (US$60,241) importing from the United States a special blood-separation machine and the disposable hoses it uses," Zou said.
"The cost to city government for one 300-milliliter unit of platelets is 1,600 yuan, while for one 200-milliliter unit of blood is 290 yuan."
But there is only 30 milliliters of platelets in every 200 milliliters of blood, Zou added. So the blood-separation machine is a cost-efficient way to collect platelets, he said.
However, the separation process results in a "waste" of blood, as well as creating a threat to the patient who will be using a blood component from perhaps as many as 10 donors, Zou said.
"In addition to possible infections, patients are likely to produce antibodies to the combined platelets, resulting in a rejection," he said.
Donors of whole blood give 200 milliliters during a sitting, while the amount for platelets is 100 milliliters.
Donating platelets, the body's internal Band-Aids, won't threaten one's health. The body can regenerate platelet within 48 hours, medical specialists said.
Donating platelets, however, is more complicated than donating blood.
The entire process lasts 90 minutes to two hours, while donating whole blood lasts for three to five minutes.
The donor's blood flows into a separation device for collecting platelets and then the rest of the blood is channeled back into the donor, said Song Qi, spokesman for the Shanghai Blood Administration Office, which launched the platelet-collection program with the blood center.
Donors of platelets will get a stipend - probably 120 yuan - as a gesture of appreciation, Song said.
Shanghai needs 20,000 units of platelets every year, medical officials said.
But 70 to 80 percent are currently imported from other municipalities and provinces, they said.
(Eastday.com January 21, 2002)