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Directed blood donation

Patients who need blood during medical treatment at Children's receive blood collected from volunteer donors by one of our community blood banks (Memorial Blood Centers or the St. Paul Red Cross.) All blood used at Children's is carefully screened and tested to meet all federal government requirements.

However, some parents may feel more comfortable coordinating blood donations for their child from relatives and close friends. This service, called directed donation, is available to parents who make a special request.

Please note that studies have shown that blood collected from directed donors has been found to be as safe, but no safer than, blood collected from volunteer donors. Before you decide whether to arrange for directed donations, please read the education sheet, "Blood transfusion information."

How do directed donations work?

The community blood bank collects blood from donors, processes it, performs all routine testing and sends the directed donation units to Children's. Children's transfusion service performs the required pre-transfusion testing on the patient.

Directed donations cannot be done for emergency situations since it requires 2 to 3 days to complete all donor testing requirements.

What do I need to do?

  1. Discuss with your child's doctor:
    • Will my child need blood transfusions? If so, how long will my child need transfusions?
    • Do we have enough time to plan for directed donations?
    • What kind and amount of blood product is needed?
  2. Recruit donors from immediate family or close family friends.
    • Donors must meet all requirements. Call the blood center if you have any questions about donor requirements.
    Memorial Blood Center (651) 332-7000
    St. Paul Red Cross (651) 291-4606

    • You may wish to identify extra donors. The blood center cannot guarantee that blood collected from all donors will be used. Some units may not pass testing requirements, or may be contaminated or broken during processing.
  3. If you do not know the blood types of your child and potential donors, have blood typing done. It is your responsibility to find donors with the same blood type as your child.
    • You will need a doctor's order for blood typing to be done on your child.
    • Your child's blood typing will be done in Children's outpatient lab. Stop at the Welcome Center to be sure your child is registered, and for directions to the outpatient lab.
    • Potential donors may request Direct Access Testing for ABO/Rh at Children's main lab. Payment is required before testing.
  4. Arrange for blood donations. Children's Hospitals are served by different blood banks, and each has its own procedure. Please see the instructions below, based on the hospital where your child receives care.

___ For Children's - Minneapolis patients

Memorial Blood Center procedure:

  1. Complete the form, "Request for Directed Donation." Forms are available from Memorial Blood Center, Children's transfusion service, or your doctor's office. It is your responsibility to have the form completed.
    • Family - complete the bottom portion on the front page
    • Doctor - complete the top portion on the front page.
    • Children's Lab staff - complete the back of the form.
  2. Donors should call Memorial Blood Center at (651) 332-7000 to schedule donations.
  3. Give the completed form to the Memorial Blood Center before donations.

___ For Children's - St. Paul patients

St. Paul American Red Cross procedure:

  1. Contact the donation coordinator at (651) 291-4606, and provide the following information:
    • child's name
    • date of birth
    • social security number
    • blood type
    • name of procedure requiring transfusion
    • date of intended transfusion
    • number and type of blood products
    • hospital where transfusion will occur
    • doctor involved
    • names of recruited donors
  2. Your child's doctor must send a written request for directed donations to St. Paul American Red Cross. Forms are available from the Red Cross.
  3. Donors should call the Red Cross at (651) 291-4606 to schedule donations.

What else do I need to know?

Two or three working days are needed to process the blood (not including weekends and holidays). If the directed donation is for a heart surgery, the blood should be donated 4 to 7 working days before the surgery.

It is possible that the directed donor blood may not be suitable for your child's transfusion needs. If the blood is not used for your child, it will be used for other patients who need blood transfusions.

If your child needs blood, all suitable directed-donor blood will be used first. If more is needed, volunteer-donated blood will be used. Children's transfusion service staff is not responsible for notifying parents of the number of directed-donor units available for their child. For questions about the number of units available, call:
Minneapolis (612) 813-6824
St. Paul (651) 220-6558

There is no scientific evidence that blood from directed donors is any safer than that from routine volunteer donors. As with any blood or blood component transfused, possible complications include risk of transfusion-transmitted infectious diseases.

If you choose to use directed donor blood for your child's medical treatment at Children's, you will be billed for the expenses involved in special handling and processing directed blood units. Your insurance may not cover this cost.


This sheet is not specific to your child but provides general information. For questions about the directed donation process, please call the community blood bank that serves your hospital.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
Patient/Family Education
2525 Chicago Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Last reviewed 8/2015 ©Copyright

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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