Blood banking, the process of collecting (donation), testing, processing, and storing blood for later use (transfusion), is a cornerstone of emergency and surgical medicine and is dependent on the clinical laboratory for ensuring the safe use of blood and its components. This article provides a glimpse into four key aspects of blood banking:
- Donating Blood,
- Protecting Supply,
- ensuring its proper use, and
- the Risks involved for donors as well as recipients.
AABB (formerly American Association of Blood Banks) estimates that an average of 23 million units of blood components are transfused annually in this country. Blood transfusions, the introduction of blood or blood components from one person into the bloodstream of another, are essential for saving the lives of victims of trauma, for those undergoing major surgery, and for those with other causes of blood loss. Blood transfusions also are used to treat severe anemia resulting from the effects of chemotherapy, cancer, sickle cell disease, and thalassemia.
Organizations such as AABB, the American Red Cross, and America's Blood Centers give a great deal of attention to both the safety and the maintenance of the nation's blood supply. In particular, they monitor potential problems with the supply, such as reduced numbers of blood donors and the risk of transmittal of blood-borne infections.