Donating Blood & Platelets: Donating Blood to a Specific Patient

1. What is a directed donation?

A directed donation is the donation of blood or platelets that is designated for a specific patient. There is no scientific evidence that designated blood is safer than blood from other volunteer donors. In fact, directed donors must meet the same eligibility criteria as other volunteer donors.

Donors cannot be tested for blood type prior to donation. If someone donates to a specific patient and we determine the blood is not compatible with that patient’s blood type, the blood will be released for use by other Memorial Sloan Kettering patients.

If the directed donation is whole blood, generally only the red cells are reserved for the designated patient’s use. The other blood components are put into the general inventory of Memorial Hospital’s blood bank for use by other patients.

To prevent blood from being wasted, if the designated patient does not use the red cells within 25 days, the unit will be made available for use by other patients. Platelets that are not used by a designated patient within 5 days will also be made available for use by other patients.

It takes up to five business days to test and process blood donations and three business days to test and process platelets before the units can be released for use by patients. Therefore directed donations cannot be made for emergency transfusions.

2. Who may give a directed donation?

Anyone who is healthy and meets the criteria for blood donation may designate their blood for a specific patient. There are certain exceptions, including:

  • If the patient will be receiving a bone marrow or stem cell transplant from a family member, no close blood relatives (grandparents, parents, children, siblings, aunts and uncles, first cousins, or nieces and nephews) should donate blood. Receiving transfusions from a close blood relative prior to the bone marrow or stem cell transplant can cause rejection of the transplant. Donations from close blood relatives may be made after the bone marrow or stem cell transplant.
  • A husband should not donate blood to his wife during childbearing years because it could increase the risk of complications in future pregnancies.

3. Do patients get credit on their hospital bills for providing their own donors?

No. The charges related to transfusion on a hospital bill are for the collection, processing, and testing of the blood/platelets, regardless of who donated them.

4. What if a patient doesn’t have anyone who can provide a directed donation?

Patients are not denied transfusions for any reason. Our blood bank relies on family members and friends of patients, as well as staff and people who live and work in the community, to maintain an adequate supply of blood products that support the transfusion needs of our patients.