Blood Donations and Blood Banking

Blood Donations and Blood Banking

What is blood banking?

A blood bank is a place where blood is collected and stored before it is used for transfusions. Blood banking takes place in the lab. This is to make sure that donated blood and blood products are safe before they are used. Blood banking also determines the blood type. The blood is also tested for infectious diseases.

Facts about blood banking

According to the American Red Cross:

  • About 36,000 units of blood are needed every day.
  • The number of blood units donated is about 13.6 million a year.
  • About 6.8 million volunteers are blood donors each year.
  • Each unit of blood is broken down into components. These are red blood cells, plasma, cryoprecipitated AHF (cryo), a white blood cell called a granulocyte, and platelets. One unit of whole blood and its parts may be transfused to several people. Each person may have a different need.
  • More than 21 million blood components are transfused each year.

Who are the blood donors?

Most blood donors are volunteers. But you may also donate blood several weeks before having surgery. This is so that your blood is available in case you need a transfusion. Donating blood for yourself is called an autologous donation.

Volunteer blood donors must meet certain criteria. These include:

  • Must be at least 16 years of age, or the minimum age set by state law
  • Must be in good health
  • Must weigh at least 110 pounds
  • Must pass the physical and health history exam given before donation

Some states let people younger than 16 or 17 years to donate blood, with parental consent.

What tests are done in blood banking?

Certain standard tests are done in the lab once blood is donated. These include:

  • Typing. This is blood type. Blood can be A, B, AB, or O.
  • Rh typing. This can be Rh positive or Rh negative.
  • Screening for any unexpected red blood cell antibodies. These antibodies may cause problems in the person getting the blood
  • Screening for current or past infections. The list includes:
  • Hepatitis viruses B and C
  • HIV
  • Human T-lymphotropic viruses (HTLV) I and II
  • Syphilis
  • West Nile virus
  • Chagas disease

Blood cells are treated with radiation. This kills any T-lymphocytes in the donated blood. T-lymphocytes can cause a reaction when transfused. They can also cause graft-versus-host problems. This is a rare complication of a blood transfusion.

Blood may also be filtered to remove certain white blood cells called leukocytes (leukocyte-reduced blood). These cells contain antibodies that can cause fevers in the person getting the transfusion. After getting several transfusions, the person may be at higher risk for a reaction.

What are the blood types?

According to the AABB, blood types make up the following portions of the U.S. population:

  • O Rh-positive - 39%
  • A Rh-positive - 30%
  • B Rh-positive - 9%
  • O Rh-negative - 9%
  • A Rh-negative - 6%
  • AB Rh-positive - 4%
  • B Rh-negative - 2%
  • AB Rh-negative - 1%

What are the components of blood?

Blood or one of its components may be transfused. Each component serves many functions.

  • Red blood cells. These cells carry oxygen to the tissues in the body. They are commonly used to treat anemia.
  • Platelets. They help the blood clot. They are used to treat leukemia and other forms of cancer.
  • White blood cells. This is a type of white blood cell that helps fight infection. It helps in the immune process.
  • Plasma. This is the watery, liquid part of the blood. Red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are a part of this liquid. Plasma is needed to carry the many parts of the blood through the bloodstream. Plasma serves many function. It is generally transfused to replace blood-clotting proteins.
  • Cryoprecipitate AHF. The party of the plasma that contains clotting factors that help control bleeding.

Albumin, immune globulins, and clotting-factors may also be separated and processed for transfusions.

Blood Products

We provide hospitals with the following lifesaving blood products 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Red Blood Cells

  • Leukocyte-reduced
  • CMV negative
  • Irradiated
  • Deglycerolized
  • Washed
  • For pediatric use
  • Frozen
  • Antigen negative


  • Platelets pheresis, leukocyte-reduced
  • Platelets pheresis irradiated
  • Platelets pheresis, CMV-negative
  • Platelets pheresis, HLA matched
  • Platelets pheresis, HPA-1a (PLA1) negative
  • Platelet additive solution (PAS) platelets
  • Pathogen reduced platelets (in PAS)


  • Plasma frozen within 24 hours (PF24)
  • Plasma held at room temperature for up to 24 hours (PF24RT24)
  • Fresh frozen plasma (FFP)
  • Plasma, cryoprecipitate reduced
  • Cryoprecipitated AHF
  • Cryoprecipitated AHF, pooled
  • Liquid plasma

Whole Blood

  • Leukocyte-reduced and non-leukocyte reduced
  • Other available features: CMV negative, Irradiated, for pediatric use

Blood Products for Research

  • Whole blood
  • Red blood cells
  • Platelets
  • Source leukocytes
  • Mononuclear cells
  • Other products by request 


How can one donation help multiple people?

In modern medical treatments, patients may receive a pint of whole blood or just the specific components of the blood that are needed to treat their particular condition. This approach to treatment, referred to as blood component therapy, allows several patients to benefit from one pint of donated whole blood.

The transfusable components that can be derived from donated blood are red cells, platelets, plasma, cryoprecipitated AHF (cryo), and granulocytes. An additional component, white cells, is often removed from donated blood before transfusion.

Whole Blood

Red Cells




White Cells & Granulocytes

Whole blood contains red cells, white cells, and platelets (~45% of volume) suspended in blood plasma (~55% of volume).

  • Color: Red
  • Shelf Life: 21/35 days*
  • Storage Conditions: Refrigerated
  • Key Uses: Trauma, Surgery

Whole Blood is the simplest, most common type of blood donation. It’s also the most flexible because it can be transfused in its original form or used to help multiple people when separated into its specific components of red cells, plasma and platelets.

A whole blood donation requires minimal processing before it is ready to be transfused into a patient. If not needed right away, whole blood can be refrigerated for up to 35 days, depending on the type of anticoagulant used.

Whole blood is used to treat patients who need all the components of blood, such as those who have sustained significant blood loss due to trauma or surgery.

Whole blood can be donated at any Red Cross blood drive or blood center.

Whole blood is made up of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, all of which are suspended in a liquid called plasma.

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