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  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
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  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story

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    When you donate blood

    By Times staff writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published July 19, 2002

    You are asked an extensive series of questions that touch on your health, sex life, drug use and travel abroad.

    If everything checks out, you are taken to a donor chair. Usually, donors give about a pint of blood.

    The unit of blood is kept in an insulated container until a courier takes it to the blood bank lab at Florida Blood Services headquarters in St. Petersburg.

    A separate sample goes to the lab for testing. Testing is usually completed within 16 hours.

    More than 20 tests are conducted, including for HIV, hepatitis, blood cancers and venereal diseases.

    The donated blood is separated into three components: red blood cells, plasma and platelets.

    If the tests are clear, the separated blood components are labeled and can be used. Couriers take the blood to hospitals when it is ready, no matter what hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    Blood that tests positive for infection is put in a special bin and destroyed.

    Platelets must be used within five to seven days; red blood cells can last 42 days; the plasma can be frozen.

    Red blood cells help patients with chronic anemia or acute blood loss.

    Platelets help patients undergoing cancer therapy, recovering from organ and bone marrow transplants or with leukemia or aplastic anemia.

    Plasma benefits patients with severe liver disease, clotting deficiencies or serious burns.

    -- Sources: American Red Cross, Florida Blood Services

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