Many of you know that we sometimes get some unexpected requests when it comes to shipping or warehousing freight. Sometimes it is really interesting stuff, like music production equipment for huge festivals. Sometimes its a life-saving artificial body part. Recently, we received a request that we had not encountered before: someone asking us if we could ship human blood.
We don’t consider ourselves squeamish, and we are a team that loves to take on a challenge. That being said, it’s not every day that we receive this kind of request, so of course, we had some questions. As it turns out, a reputable company needed some blood shipped last-mile to multiple testing labs in the region. In researching the details of the shipment, we learned a few new things.
A Demand for Blood
Why would a transportation company that isn’t connected to any hospitals need to ship blood in the first place? If you are like us, that was probably one of the first things you thought. As it turns out, hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities focus their resources more on saving lives than shipping fluids, no-brainer right? Pair this with the reality that “every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.” In fact, the U.S. Healthcare system will use about 5,400 Gallons of blood every single day on average. With all of this blood donated at various donation centers across the country, it needs a way to get to it’s final destination.
However, these organizations, like The Red Cross for example, can’t just take their collections straight to the hospital. All of this blood has to be tested, packaged for safety, and kept in prime conditions so that it isn’t wasted. This is where those shipping companies come in. You might be donating blood in Ohio, but that blood could be needed (and shipped) anywhere in the U.S. So what does it take to ship blood?
The process for shipping blood is a lot more complicated than you might think. Without even getting into the regulatory and legal considerations, there’s still a lot of preparation that goes into shipping one of our body’s most vital resources. Because blood is so valuable, and always in demand, it has to be shipped with the utmost of care.
Blood is an extremely temperamental bodily fluid. For it to be used in transfusions, it MUST be kept between 2 degrees Celsius and 6 degrees Celsius (between 35.6F and 42.8F) until the time of transfusion. While kept in a refrigerated warehousing unit, it is relatively easy to keep the temperature in this range. When shipping whole trailers full of the stuff, it gets a little trickier.
To solve this problem, a special packaging technique was created that is actually pretty fascinating. Each box can hold a small number of units of blood and each individual box has its own internal refrigeration system. These special boxes are packaged and insulated so that the blood is kept safe from jostling in transport and designed with fail safes to ensure the blood never leaves this narrow temperature range. These boxes can now be stacked and loaded with ease onto trailers and taken to their destinations.
With all of these considerations shipping blood doesn’t seem like such a daunting task. Such a precious item deserves to be handled with extreme care and preparation, and we are glad that so much thought has gone into this process. You my not be shipping blood anytime in the near future, but now you know how the process is handled, and we are more prepared to deliver this life-giving fluid to its destination!