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Directed (designated) blood donation programs

Arthur J Silvergleid, MD
Section Editor
Steven Kleinman, MD
Deputy Editor
Jennifer S Tirnauer, MD


Prior to 1983, recipient-specific donations were considered medically indicated in a limited number of clinical situations. These included pre-renal transplant sensitization regimens; HLA-matched or family member apheresis-harvested platelet concentrates for refractory, thrombocytopenic patients; and washed maternal platelets for infants with isoimmune neonatal thrombocytopenia.

In direct response to concerns about blood safety raised by the AIDS epidemic, directed donations increased dramatically after 1985, despite official discouragement by all of the major blood banking organizations. Currently, directed donations constitute less than 1 percent of all blood collected, a figure that seems to be stable. While any blood component (red blood cells, plasma, cryoprecipitate, platelets or granulocytes) can be directed towards a particular patient, the vast majority of directed donations are for red blood cells.

This topic covers issues specifically related to directed blood donation. The safety of blood donation for the donor, and the risks and benefits of any blood transfusion are discussed separately.

(See "Blood donor screening: Procedures and processes to enhance safety for the blood recipient and the blood donor".)

(See "Red blood cell transfusion in infants and children: Administration and complications".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 05, 2017.
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