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What happens to the donor’s DNA in a blood transfusion? © iStock

What happens to the donor’s DNA in a blood transfusion?

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Just like whole milk, whole blood is the real deal, but even Dracula would think twice about putting it on his Corn Flakes.

Asked by: Susan Bownass, Yelling


There is virtually none there to begin with. Only the white blood cells have a nucleus, so they are the only cells that carry any of the donor’s DNA. Red blood cells and platelets lose their nucleus during production in the bone marrow. Donated blood is spun in a centrifuge to separate it into plasma, platelets, red cells and white cells and only the first three are used for transfusions. If whole blood is used in an emergency transfusion, it causes a fever called ‘febrile non-haemolytic transfusion reaction’, as the recipient’s own white cells destroy the foreign DNA.


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luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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