Sitemap Whole blood is usually separated out later by the laboratory into its component parts for use: white blood cells, red blood cells, plasma and platelets. Before taking blood from a donor, Blood bank staff asks questions about the donor’s heath history, information about possible exposure to infections or pregnancy and take the potential donor’s blood pressure, pulse and temperature. Any abnormalities will cause the staff to defer the donor–to disqualify them from donation. The deferred donor is then registered and all the detail information of the donor is saved.
Blood banks are responsible for testing and protecting the safety of the blood supply. Aside from manually screening donors, blood banks test all donated blood for ABO and Rh group (known as “blood types”), as well as for multiple transmissible diseases and contamination. Blood banks work to ensure that the blood supply is free of infection, unexpected antibodies present (from pregnancy or past donor transfusions) and ready for use. Diseases tested for in U.S. based blood banks include hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV-1 and HIV-2, human T-lymph tropic virus, and syphilis. Tests that aren’t required, but commonly performed, also screen for West Nile virus and Chagas disease.
Blood banks work to ensure a continuously available safe blood supply by properly storing it–keeping the blood components labeled and refrigerated or frozen. Many blood banks are also centers of research, using a portion of donated blood to further study blood cells, diseases and how to improve blood safety and storage. Several major blood banks are also involved in cord-blood research, a relatively new area of blood research that has the potential to treat previously untreatable diseases and as a replacement for bone-marrow transplants. Cord blood, which contains stem cells, is collected from volunteer birthing mothers who donate their newborns’ placentas and umbilical cords.