Blood Banking

Blood banking is the process that takes place in the laboratory to ensure that donated blood or blood products are safe, before they are used in blood transfusions and other medical procedures. Blood banking includes typing the blood for transfusion and testing for infectious diseases.

What are the facts about blood banking?
The American Association of Blood Banks reports the following facts about blood donation:

  • About 40,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day.
  • The number of blood units donated is about 14 million a year.
  • There are approximately 8 million volunteer blood donors.
  • About 4 million patients receive transfusions of blood units each year.  
  • Each unit of blood is broken down into components, such as red blood cells, plasma and platelets. One unit of whole blood, once separated, may be transfused to several patients, each with different needs.
  • Annually, more than 23 million units of blood components are transfused.

What tests are performed in blood banking?
A certain set of standard tests are performed in the laboratory once blood is donated, including the following:

  • ABO group (blood type)
  • Rh type (positive or negative)
  • Any unexpected red blood cell antibodies that may cause problems in the recipient
  • Evidence of donor infection with one or more of the following:
    • Hepatitis viruses B and C
    • Human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) 1 and 2
    • Human T-lymphotropic viruses (HTLV) I and II
    • Syphilis

Each unit of blood may be separated into several components: 

  • Red blood cells, which carry oxygen and are commonly used to treat anemia
  • Platelets, which help control bleeding and are used in the treatment of leukemia and other forms of cancer
  • Granulocytes, which sometimes are used to fight infections
  • Fresh frozen plasma, which helps control bleeding due to low levels of some clotting factors
  • Cryoprecipitated AHF, which helps prevent clotting
  • Other substances, such as albumin, immune globulins and clotting factor concentrates

Blood Types

 According to the American Association of Blood Banks, distribution of blood types in the United States is as follows:
  • Type O, Rh-positive: 38 percent
  • Type A, Rh-positive: 34 percent
  • Type B, Rh-positive: 9 percent
  • Type O, Rh-negative: 7 percent
  • Type A, Rh-negative: 6 percent
  • Type AB, Rh-positive: 3 percent
  • Type B, Rh-negative: 2 percent
  • Type AB, Rh-negative: 1 percent

Blood Donation Forms

For more information about the Eileen Murphree McMillin Blood Center at Houston Methodist Hospital, visit our Blood Donations page .