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Directed blood donation

Patients who need blood during medical treatment at Children's receive blood collected from volunteer donors by our community blood bank (Memorial Blood Centers).  All blood used at Children's is carefully screened and tested to meet all federal government requirements.

What is directed blood donation?

Directed blood donation, or directed donation, is when your child receives blood from a relative or close friend, instead of a community blood bank. Some patients may need direct blood donation for rare medical reasons. These blood products are requested from the patient’s healthcare provider and must be approved by Children’s Minnesota infusion service.

What medical need would qualify for directed blood donation?

Your child may qualify for directed blood donation if the blood bank cannot supply similar blood from the general donation bank. Additional testing of patient family blood who have similar blood types as the patient is necessary.

Blood donors who received the SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine DO NOT pose a risk for the  safety of the blood supply. Therefore, this is NOT a medical reason to request directed blood donation.

Directed blood donation is costly and challenging to coordinate. In addition, some parts of the blood are not available from Memorial Blood Centers, making it difficult and longer to receive the blood your child may desperately need.


  • Mother-to-child directed donation poses an increased risk of transfusion-associated acute lung injury (TRALI).
  • Blood donation by a family member who is a potential future stem cell or solid organ transplant donor may cause the patient/recipient to develop red cell or HLA antibodies against the donors.

Examples of medical indications for directed donations include:

  • Alloimmunization Risk
  • Rare Blood Type
  • IgA deficiency

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
    • 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.
  4. Arrange for blood donations. 

Memorial Blood Centers procedure:

Complete the form, "Request for Directed Donation." Forms are available from Memorial Blood Center, or Children's transfusion service. It is your responsibility to have the form completed.

  • Family – complete Part II
  • Doctor – complete Part I
  • Children's Lab staff - complete Part III

Submit completed form by fax to 651-332-7029 or by email to [email protected]. After the approval from the blood center medical director donors should call Memorial Blood Center at (651) 332-7000 to schedule donations. Give the completed form to the Memorial Blood Center before 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 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  directed donor blood is approved 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.

Reviewed 4/2024

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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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