From one arm to the next: Following a blood donation

From one arm to the next: Following a blood donation
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Giving blood is such an easy way to save a life. The Indiana Blood Center relies on regular donations to supply dozens of hospitals across the state with blood daily. It's an elaborate process that moves with life-saving urgency in mind.

Giving blood is a simple procedure that takes only minutes. Once that liquid gold leaves your arm, it's on the fast track to the next arm. The missing is to save a life.

Once a unit of blood is donated, it comes in through a cooler on a roller system.

"Once they filter it, it goes into one of our centrifuges and it spins around and separates the product," said Terry Joseph, Indiana Blood Center.

One unit of blood is separated into three products: red blood cells, plasma and platelets, making your single donation capable of saving three lives.

"The red cells, once it's separated, will go in the refrigerator here," explained Joseph.

Then it's all boxed up and ready for shipping.

Patrick is one of the many couriers who make runs daily, often several times a day to more than sixty hospitals throughout the state served by the Indiana Blood Center. All of the blood donated to the Indiana Blood Center stays in Indiana.

After loading the precious cargo, Patrick pulls out for his morning run. The first stop is the IU Health Pathology Lab

"This will be the biggest stop of the day. We've got seven boxes," he said.

The lab serves IU Health's three downtown hospitals. Next stop is the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The stops are quick and designed to get the hospitals the supplies they need when they need them. While many of the runs are regularly scheduled, hospitals can also make emergency requests when trauma strikes. Those deliveries can arrive in as quickly as 30 minutes depending on the location.

The VA Medical Center is just one of the many blood banks receiving a special delivery from the Indiana Blood Center today. No doubt, these shipments mean life. Every bag has a story and here's hoping every story has a happy ending.

"This gives someone else a chance to go out and play with their kids or pick up their grandkids," said Amanda Kelich, VA Medical Center.

Kelich is a medical technologist at the VA Medical Center. She unpacks, sorts, logs and stores the blood.

"Right now, we're just logging it in into our general inventory so it's available," she said.

"On the rare occasion that we would need blood elsewhere, Indiana Blood Center is great about finding that for us," she explained. "They make it fun. They really do. We know each other by name."

That's the path a donation to the Indiana Blood Center takes to save a life.

Learn how to donate blood.