VIDEO. In Toulouse, how blood donations are transformed to save lives
The French Blood Establishment has just inaugurated its new regional technical platform in Toulouse. Renovated and enlarged, the site receives blood donations collected throughout the Occitanie region. Every day, 1,000 donations are transformed into labile blood products to save lives.
To meet the needs of patients, a thousand blood donations are needed every day in the Occitanie region. All blood products pass through the regional technical platform of the French Blood Establishment (EFS) where they are transformed into labile for hospitalized patients. The site, integrated in 1997 in the Purpan district to process 100,000 blood donations per year, had become undersized. For lack of space, to support the 280,000 to 300,000 pockets of donations annually, the activity had been extended over an hourly amplitude of 24 hours.
After two years of work, the regional technical platform, renovated and enlarged, now operates from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday and from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. Every day, 30 technicians are busy around the bags of blood, plasma or platelet donations received from all over Occitania. Because when a blood donor leaves the collection site, his donation begins a well-marked course of checks and preparations before being able to save lives. “Here, we process donations. A collection of 480 ml of whole blood recovers 292 ml of plasma, 42 ml of buffy coat and 225 ml of red blood cells. But before we can benefit patients from these products, several steps are necessary”, summarizes Christine Dité, head of the labile blood preparation service at EFS Occitanie.
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White blood cells are removed
Every morning, from 7 a.m., the race starts for the pockets of donations. Once arranged by sampling schedule and by category (whole blood/plasma/platelets), they are weighed and recorded. Note that, from the arm of the donor to that of the recipient, a barcode ensures the traceability of the pocket throughout the circuit. During the donation, 5 tubes of blood are also taken and matched in the biological analysis laboratory of the EFS in Montpellier to check the absence of viruses (hepatitis, HIV, syphilis, etc.).
Then comes filtration, a step that consists in eliminating the white blood cells in order to avoid immunological reactions in the recipient. A little over an hour later, each blood bag is manually folded and placed in a centrifuge. A 20-minute program then allows, at the rate of a centrifugation of several thousand revolutions per minute, to separate the different layers. Passing through semi-automatic separation presses finalizes this step and obtains the three products: plasma, buffy coats and red blood cell concentrate.
Then head to the cold storage in refrigerators that the technicians have chosen to name summits: Canigou, Mont Blanc, Etna. “The globular concentrate leaves in fridges at -4°C where it can remain for up to 42 days. But it is rather consumed within ten days in Occitania or is sent to repair other regions. Plasma, on the other hand, is frozen at -25°C for 2 hours then put in a cold room at -30°C in order to preserve the coagulation factors and plasma proteins. After 60 days of securing, it goes to the therapeutic route”, explains further Christine Dite. The regional site also manufactures daily between 50 and 70 mixtures of platelet concentrates intended for transfusion in cases of haemorrhage or for patients undergoing cancer treatment. Platelets only have a lifespan of 7 days, hence the importance of regular mobilization of donors.
A 2-day-old baby and a centenarian transfused
At the heart of the transfusion chain, the Toulouse regional technical platform distributes healthcare blood products every day to the 16 EFS Occitanie storage sites, which then redistribute them to healthcare establishments. It also provides EFS for the Île-de-France and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur regions. “Our pockets travel a million kilometers a year. This is where we give blood the power to heal. Last week, Marouane, a two-day-old baby, was transfused in intensive care at the Toulouse University Hospital and Henriette, 102 years, was transfused at the Figeac hospital. In the digestive intensive care unit of Montpellier, Jérôme received 21 concentrated red blood cells and at the Oncopole of Toulouse, Mélanie, in stem cell transplant treatment reinforced by 12 platelet concentrates”, declared Laurent Bardiaux, director of EFS Occitanie, during the inauguration of the new technical platform.