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Can I donate blood for my child?

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As a physician who works with critically ill patients, I often get questions for parents about donating blood to their children. The following are some common questions regarding directed blood donation.

What is directed blood donation?

Directed blood donation is when blood donors donate blood for transfusion of a specific recipient. Altruistic blood donation, on the other hand, is when blood donors donate blood for general blood inventory. The majority of blood in the U.S. comes from altruistic blood donations. While it is possible to donate blood for your child, it is mostly not advised or necessary for ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) patients.

Is parents’ blood more compatible with their children?

Due to the complexity of the ABO blood group genetics, parents may actually not be ABO compatible with their children. Therefore, even if parents donate, the blood components collected may not be suitable for their child’s transfusions.

Is a parent’s blood safer for their children?

Directed blood donators are screened by the same donation criteria and the blood collected from them undergo the same testing as altruistic donations. Therefore, blood components from altruistic donations are just as safe as those from directed donations. In fact, unused blood components from directed donations are eventually moved into the general blood bank inventory for transfusions of other patients if the intended recipient did not require transfusion.

Does it take less time to prepare blood from directed blood donations for transfusion?

Blood components from directed blood donations often need additional processing before issuing for transfusions. Therefore, it often takes longer to prepare blood components from directed donations than those from altruistic donations already in our inventory.

Should I donate for my child to save the blood bank inventory for other patients?

Thanks to the generosity of our blood donors in the Houston region, our blood bank inventory at Texas Children’s Hospital is very robust. Blood shortage is extremely rare, therefore, directed donation is fortunately not necessary to ensure blood availability for patients. However, if parents wish, altruistic donations are always welcome at our local blood centers. In addition, parents can work in conjunction with the blood center to arrange blood drives in the future which can benefit our communities.

How can I donate blood to Texas Children’s Hospital?

Becoming an altruistic donors is always a great way to contribute to maintaining a robust blood supply for children at Texas Children's. We do encourage our parents to get involved with our local blood centers as blood donors or volunteers.

What should I do if I wish to become a blood donor or organize a blood drive?

For donation information, you may call Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center at (713) 790-1200. To organize a blood drive, you may call Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center at (713) 791-6237. For more information on donations, you may visit