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Glossary of Terms


ALYX Component Collection System
An automated blood collection process that allows donors to give two units of red cells instead of one.

A lower than normal number of red blood cells.

A protein produced by the body’s immune system that recognizes and helps fight infections and other foreign substances in the body.

A substance that is used to prevent the clotting or thickening of blood.

A substance on the surface of red blood cells that elicits an immune response when transfused into a patient who lacks that antigen.

Autologous Donation
Blood drawn from an individual prior to surgery and given back to the same individual if a transfusion is needed.

Blood type
Everyone’s blood falls into one of four groups, or types: A, B, AB or O. The type depends on the presence or absence of certain substances on red blood cells. Blood types are inherited.

Bone marrow
The soft tissue located in the cavities of bones which is responsible for blood cell and platelet production.

CMV (Cytomegalovirus)
A virus that may cause flu-like symptoms in the general population, but can cause severe disease in premature babies, bone marrow transplant recipients, and AIDS patients.

A “part” of blood. Blood has several components: red blood cells, plasma, platelets and white blood cells. Each component has its own job to do. Blood can be separated into components so patients can be transfused with what they need.

A component of plasma used to treat a number of clotting disorders.

A disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.

Directed Donation
A donation made by a blood donor who requests that his or her unit of blood goes to a specific patient.

Factor VIII-Rich Cryoprecipitate
Contains the clotting factor used to control bleeding in hemophiliacs.

A protein that reacts with other molecules to produce blood clots.

A type of white blood cell that attacks and destroys foreign substances.

A measure of the amount of red blood cells in your body.

A blood specialist.

The component of red blood cells that carries oxygen.

The process of clotting.

Inflammation of the liver, caused by infectious or toxic agents and characterized by jaundice, fever, liver enlargement, and abdominal pain.

Hepatitis B Surface Antigen
A protein that indicates infection with the hepatitis B virus, appearing even before symptoms.

A virus that may cause blood or nerve disease.

A condition brought about by disease or chemotherapy where the individual is highly susceptible to infection.

Removal of white blood cells from products in order to prevent certain transfusion reactions.

Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT)
Advanced laboratory testing that can detect viruses in donated blood even earlier than existing tests.

Pheresis is a special kind of blood donation that allows a donor to give specific blood components, such as plasma, platelets or red blood cells. During the pheresis procedure, all but the needed blood component is returned to the donor.

Plasma is 92 percent water, 7 percent protein and 1 percent minerals. Plasma is used to treat clotting disorders, burn victims and shock. When frozen, plasma lasts one year.

A pheresis procedure where plasma is collected.

A pheresis procedure where platelets are collected.

Colorless cells whose main function is to control bleeding. Platelets are essential to normal blood clotting. They can be wiped out during treatment for cancer, leukemia, aplastic anemia and other diseases. They have a 5-day life span.

Red Cells
Red cells transport oxygen to body cells and remove carbon dioxide. Red cells can be kept for 42 days.

Renal Care Facilities
Centers that provide care to patients with kidney disease.

The Rh factor is an inherited blood group on red blood cells like the ABO blood types. About 85 percent of the people in this country have it. Those who have it are “Rh-positive,” those who don’t are “Rh-negative.”

Sickle cell disease
A disease in which the affected person produces an abnormal hemoglobin. Sickle cell disease is inherited. It is most often seen in people of African American descent.

Replacing blood or blood components a body has lost in surgery, through an accident, or as a result of medical treatment such as chemotherapy.

Universal donor
A person who has blood type O negative and is therefore able to serve as a donor to a person of any other blood group in the ABO system.

Universal recipient
A person who has blood type AB positive and is therefore able to receive blood from any other group in the ABO system.

White Cells (Leukocytes)
The protective cells in the bloodstream. They attack bacteria by squeezing through capillary walls (the smallest of the body’s blood vessels) to reach the area of infection.

Whole Blood Donation
A donation of all blood components (platelets, plasma, red blood cells) and—through component separation—can be used to help several patients at once, like leukemia patients, burn victims, and accident victims.

*A collaboration between Blood Bank of Delmarva and America’s Blood Centers*