Safety of the blood recipient is the prime concern
The most important factor for the blood recipient is that the donor is healthy. In addition to the health questionnaire, the donor's state of health is investigated by testing donated blood at each donation.
One sample is taken from the tip of a finger to determine the blood haemoglobin level. In addition, the donated blood is tested for transfusion-transmissible infections. Some of the blood sample collected is archived for at least five years, and can be tested in cases where the safety of the donated blood has to be re-evaluated.
Blood may contain many kinds of pathogens, or disease-causing microbes. However, only a small proportion of these microbes can be detected by current tests. In addition, very recently contracted infections, which do not show immediately or reliably on laboratory tests, present a slight risk to patient safety.
The window period is the time between first infection and when tests can reliably detect that infection. During this time an infected person may be able to infect others. If there is a risk of infection, such as a new tattoo or a new sex partner, blood donation is postponed for the duration of the window period.
After the HIV screening of blood donors was initiated in 1986, there have been no transfusion-transmitted HIV infections in Finland. The most recent case of blood product-derived hepatitis C infection in a patient dates back to 2000.
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