Blood Banking

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Blood banking, the process of collecting, testing, processing, and storing blood for later use, 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: 1) donating blood, 2) protecting the blood supply, 3) ensuring its proper use, and 4) the risks involved for donors as well as recipients.

The UK National Blood Service estimates that an average of 9000 units of blood components are required per day for transfusing into those patients in need. 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 anaemia resulting from other causes as well, including the effects of chemotherapy, cancer, sickle cell disease, and thalassaemia.

Organisations such as the NBS and the British Blood Transfusion Society, 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.

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