Only about 20% of all the blood Red Cross collects is used as whole blood, which has a shelf life of 42 days. These are the major blood products:
RED CELLS are used for about 70% of all blood needs.
Shelf life: 42 days (Can also be frozen and stored for three years, but once reconstituted they must be used within 24 hours. The freezing-reconstituting process is costly and is used primarily for preservation of rare blood.)
Diameter: 7 microns (1 micron=0.0000039 inch) Number: 4 million-6 million/microliter (0.00003 ounce)
WHITE CELLS can be obtained by a special pheresis procedure from a specially recruited donor who gets the red cells and plasma back after the white cells have been extracted. Platelets may also be obtained by pheresis when a large quantity of matched platelets are required for a particular patient.
Shelf life: less than eight hours
Diameter: 7-12 microns
PLATELETS are required for clotting and are used in cancer treatment and for bleeding problems.
Shelf life: 5 days