You sit down for an hour, donate a pint of blood. But then what?

"We're going to separate that into the various components of blood."

Justin Kreuter, M.D., is the director of Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Program. He says blood donations enable much needed patient care

"Most likely, your blood would be used for a medical patient who's suffering a disease or it could be used for a patient that's having surgery."

Dr. Kreuter says donated blood is separated into red blood cells, platelets and plasma, and each has different storage needs.

"We can keep the red blood cells for 42 days. For platelets, we can keep them for five days. For plasma, we can keep it for a full year."

And for these reasons having a supportive blood donor community is critical for patient care.

"Every time that you donate, that's going to be relieving suffering or enabling some medical-surgical cure to happen, and I think that's the thing we have to remember."

For the Mayo Clinic News Network, I'm Ian Roth.

Nov. 22, 2019