Effective Blood and Plasma Transfers with Blockchain

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Written by
Shivani Tripathi
Published on
September 14, 2022

Blood banks are an absolute requirement for medical institutions, which is why every institution has one of its own. Even small hospitals have contracts with the closest blood banks for emergencies.

According to the American Red Cross, the US requires 29,000 units of blood, 5,000 units of platelets, and 6,500 units of plasma every single day. To add to that, the nation’s blood shortage was heightened after the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Blood and Plasma Transfers

Healthcare personnel is forced to prolong patient wait times because of the rising need for blood, platelets, and plasma. Managing a blood chain is therefore becoming more and more essential.

Damage is inevitable as the blood often reaches patients after traveling far distances. To avoid this, the supply chain must be able to track the transfers of blood, plasma, and platelets using the blockchain.

Blockchain in the Pharmaceutical Supply chain

Several industries have adopted a blockchain-supported supply chain, and the pharmaceutical industry is no exception. It helps the management in validating the originality of pharmaceutical data by optimizing it. Further, it helps in tracking and supplying authentic medicines as needed.

To make the provision of healthcare more seamless, large firms like IBM and Delloite are also focusing on blockchain supply chains. 

Blockchain in the Plasma and Blood Chains

Blood chain and plasma tracking are streamlined with the help of blockchain technology. It is utilized as a central management database for the tracking of blood, plasma, and platelets.

Due to the growing blood shortage and falling blood donations, current donations must be highly preserved. Blood donation management is thus tokenizing the donated blood units as NFTs. These tokenized blood units are traced from the point of donation till they reach the receiver.

The blood units are tracked along a time chain with the encoded barcodes. The units used to create platelets and plasma are also updated to access the data origin.

Data regarding blood or plasma donations and usage are all visible thanks to the blockchain-based blood management system. To ensure that blood and plasma needs are met promptly, the time chain links every blood token to cross-verify with hospitals that require them.

Furthermore, no one can deny the use of blood, plasma, and platelets, as all the details are visible on the time chains.

Blockchain also effectively addresses other problems that arise in a typical supply chain, like data duplication, modification, damage during transit, inability to process more data, etc.

Further, Hyperledger Fabric is an open-source permissioned blockchain that has brought in many research projects that are helpful for effective blood supply chain management:

  • Professor Kim Dong Soo and his colleagues proposed a system of temperature-related verifications with time stamps. This records the temperature in real time.
  • Sivakamy Lakshminarayanan, P.N.Kumar, and N.M.Dhanya proposed a system that ensures transparency and platforms for exchanging the given blood and plasma between the donator and supplier. 

Impacts and Benefits of Using Blockchain for Effective Tracking

Blood and Plasma Transfers

Using blockchain in the supply chain for blood and plasma tracking is necessary to enhance the modern healthcare system. Some prominent changes this will make are as follows:

  • Streamline the blood supply chain – A real-time traceable supply chain structure can be introduced through blockchain technology to ensure that countless blood donations reach the right patients. This helps locate the blood and plasma in transit and understand their state. Patients can thus receive their blood, plasma, or platelets within the necessary timeframe.
  • Increasing trust- Security is one of the prime advantages of blockchain. Once the data are encoded in the time chain, they are safely backed by cryptography. With permissioned blockchain, the data is only visible to the authorized person. Thus, all the blood chain-related data are secure, private, and simultaneously accessible to the right people.
  • Origin tracking- Blood units are frequently processed into plasma, platelets, and red blood cells and are kept in a plasma bank. They are essential in treating leukemia, cancer, and aplastic anemia patients. Blockchain can assist in tracking the origin of every plasma and platelet. Furthermore, when any traces of some rare antigen are found, they can be traced back to the original owner. These can also be highly beneficial in obtaining medical patents and doing clinical research.
  • Immutable data- Once the details of the blood are uploaded onto the blockchain, there is no possible way of modifying it. Not even the author who uploaded them can edit them. 

Existing Supply Chain Limitations

The ability of the current supply chain system is limited in providing shipping information. Since healthcare services are crucial to people’s lives, precision and speed of delivery are essential. 

  • Despite access to the internet, supply chain tracking systems do not provide real-time updates. With the help of smart contracts, the real-time tracking of blood and plasma is achieved.
  • Blood and plasma are highly prone to damage during transit, and transporting them requires a suitable environment. Any instances of damage will not be found till they are received. With blockchain, such instances can be avoided since it closely monitors and time-stamps the temperature and freezing time, causing less damage.
  • It is simple to obtain, store, transfer, secure, and verify details regarding a blood donation using blockchain at any moment, which is difficult in the current system.


The biggest issue with the current health industry is the lack of transparency. The tokenization of blood introduces the scope of having all the donated blood reach patients safely. This process also helps ensure that hospitals do not face blood shortages.

Further, the blockchain health industry is expected to grow to $3.5 billion between 2021 and 2026, at a CAGR of 8.7%. The health industry is thus about to see many complex reforms which will be beneficial in the long term. With their emergence, the supply chain architecture will become safer than ever.  

While there are many promising proposals and research underway, these transformations will be made one at a time. The hesitance over implementing blockchain globally is due to unawareness and doubts about this technology. Blockchain-based innovations would therefore take time and effort to become mainstream.

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