What Is The Directed Donor Program?

If the need for a blood transfusion is anticipated, you may choose to select your own blood donors - from friends, relatives, or a specific group of people. These directed donors are volunteer donors who give blood that is reserved specifically for you for a specified period of time.

Who Can Participate In The Directed Donor Program?

To participate in the Directed Donor Program you must have either a scheduled surgery, or planned transfusion or ongoing transfusion therapy at Torrance Memorial Medical Center.

Are Directed Donations Safer?

Although some people feel that the blood they receive from donors they select will be safer, there is no conclusive information to show that blood from a directed donor is safer that blood obtained from the regular blood bank inventory. Units from both directed donors and the regular blood supply are tested for diseases that can be transmitted by blood, including different kinds of hepatitis, antibodies to AIDS virus, syphilis, and antibodies to the HTLV-I/II virus. You may want to consider autologous donation, which is donating your own blood ahead of time. This provides the safest possible transfusion. For more information about autologous blood donation/transfusion, click here. Also talk to your physician. A pamphlet on the autologous blood program is available from your physician or in the Torrance Memorial Medical Center's Blood Donor Center.

Who Qualifies As A Directed Donor?

A directed donor is a friend, family member, or individual from a specified group specially selected by the patient who is to receive the blood. If the patient is a woman of childbearing age, her husband (or male sexual partner) and his male relatives may not donate for her since this could complicate a future pregnancy.

To qualify, donors must:

  • Be over 17 years old (15 years with parental and physician approval). (There is no upper age limit).
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds.
  • Have no history of hepatitis, heart disease, or certain types of cancer.
  • Have no cold, sore throat, or other type of infection.
  • Have not engaged in any activity considered at risk for exposure to HIV (AIDS).

A more extensive screening will be done on the day of donation.

How To Arrange For Directed Donation

If You Will Be Receiving Blood

First you must discuss this option with your physician who must give an order to the Blood Donor Center nurses. It is important to do this as soon as possible after the decision for transfusion or surgery is made to allow enough time for your donors to be drawn and processed.

You must also read and sign an informed consent form, provide the Blood Donor Center with a list of names of acceptable donors, and set up a billing account.

If you do not know your blood type and need this information before you can recruit your donors, the Blood Bank will test a sample of your blood. You will be billed for this service.

If You Will Be Giving Blood

Call Torrance Memorial's Blood Donor Center at 310-517-4647 to schedule an appointment. You will be asked to sign a form stating that you agree the blood you donated for a specific patient can be released and used for other patients if not used by the person for whom you are donating (the directed recipient). California law states that if you do not authorize release of your blood for other patients in the event that direct recipient does not use it, the directed recipient will be billed for the processing fee.

Blood types are not performed before donation. If your donation passes all tests, but is not the appropriate blood type, it will be released for use by other patients if you have given your authorization. If authorization has not been given, the directed recipient will be billed. Your blood type will be mailed to you. If you must know your blood type before a decision to donate can be made, you will be billed for this service.

How Long Does It Take Before My Directed Donor Units Will Be Available For Transfusion?

Normally it takes one to three days to process a unit of directed donor blood at Torrance Memorial Medical Center. If it is not convenient to donate at Torrance Memorial Medical Center or blood is needed sooner, contact the Blood Donor Center for information.

Directed donations should not be made more than about three weeks prior to scheduled surgery or transfusion date to ensure the blood does not expire.

How Long Can I Keep My Directed Donor Units Reserved For Me?

For scheduled surgeries to medical patients already admitted to Torrance Memorial Medical Center, your directed donor blood is held until you are discharged from the medical center. For scheduled transfusion for those with ongoing transfusion therapy, your directed donor blood will be held until the scheduled transfusion date and/or until five days before the blood will expire. After this time your directed donor blood will automatically be released to regular inventory, if your donor has so agreed. If not, a processing fee will be billed to you.

What If My Surgery Or Transfusion Date Is Postponed?

You must notify Torrance Memorial's Blood Bank at 310-517-4648 as soon as possible, if your surgery or transfusion date is postponed, rescheduled, cancelled or if additional surgery or transfusions are planned. If the Blood Bank is not kept informed, your directed donor units may expire unnecessarily or not be available when you need them.

How Many Donors Do I Need?

Your physician will determine how many units of blood are needed based on your condition and/or the amount of blood that is generally used for the type of surgery you are having. One donation is equal to one unit or pint of blood.

You may call the Blood Bank to find out how many of your directed donors have passed all tests and/or are of a blood type you can use. Since all test results are confidential, the only information released to you will be the number of acceptable units. If some of your donors are unsuitable, you will then have an opportunity to recruit more donors.

How Often Can Donations Be Made By Directed Donors?

Each person can donate whole blood every eight weeks, if they meet all the requirements of regular blood donors.

What Blood Types Do My Directed Donors Need To Be For My Transfusions?

The following chart shows compatible blood types. Keep in mind that although some patients have multiple ABO blood types that are compatible, it is not good medical practice to "mix and match" several ABO blood types.

When your blood type is: Your donor's type can be:
O positive O positive or O negative
O negative O negative
A positive A positive or A negative, O positive or O negative
A negative A negative
B positive B positive or B negative, O positive or O negative
B negative B negative
AB positive AB positive or AB negative, A positive or A negative, B positive or B negative, O positive or O negative
AB negative AB negative, A negative or B negative, O negative

How Will I Know That I Am Receiving The Blood From My Directed Donor?

Only those people you list as being acceptable donors will have blood drawn. When available, these units will be transfused before units from the regular blood bank inventory. Should anyone else present themselves at the Blood Donor Center as a directed donor but not be on the list you provide, they will be drawn as replacement donors, only, and placed in the regular inventory of blood. Since donor information is confidential, we cannot give you a list of the names of the donors you received. However, only those donors you have indicated as being acceptable will be drawn and labeled as your directed donors.

Will My Directed Donors Meet All Of My Transfusion Needs?

Directed donor units will be stored as whole blood. However, blood components other than whole blood/red blood cells, such as plasma and platelets, are sometimes used. Also, it is possible you may need additional whole blood/red blood cells beyond the units donated for you. When blood components and/or additional whole blood/red blood cells are necessary, they will be obtained from the regular inventory of volunteer blood donors who are carefully screened and extensively tested. Ask your physician about the likelihood of needing additional blood and blood components from the regular inventory.

Is There A Fee For This Service?

A service fee is charged for the coordination and reservation of the blood. This fee is charged for each unit drawn whether or not the blood is used. Additional fees will be charged depending on the services required. Insurance coverage varies, so you may want to contact your insurance carrier.

What Are All The Steps For Participating in Torrance Memorial's Directed Donor Program?

  1. You must have your surgery or transfusion therapy scheduled at Torrance Memorial Medical Center.
  2. First discuss the possibility of blood transfusions and all your options with your physician.
  3. Have your physician give an order to the Blood Donor Center nurses.
  4. Come to the Blood Donor Center to read and sign an informed consent form; list those donors acceptable to you, and set up a billing account.
  5. Have the donors call the Blood Donor Center at 310-517-4647 for an appointment to donate blood.
  6. Just prior to surgery or the scheduled transfusion, you must have a small sample of blood drawn to test for compatibility.
  7. If surgery is postponed call the Blood Bank at 310-517-4648.