About Blood

History of Blood Banking


Bloodletting was based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluid were considered to be "humors," the proper balance of which maintained health.

c. 2500 BCE: Egyptians Use Bleeding

A tomb illustration in Memphis, Egypt, depicts a patient being bled from the foot and neck. Though the bloodletting was often recommended by physicians it was carried out by barbers, eventually symbolized by the red-and-white-striped barber pole.

1897: Dracula by Irish Author Bram Stoker is Published

Remembered as the quintessential vampire novel, it provided the basis of modern vampire fiction… the taking of blood from the living to sustain the "life" of the undead.

Late 1800s: Bloodletting Medically Questioned

The benefits of bloodletting began to be seriously questioned in the second half of the 1800s. Some still considered it beneficial in some circumstances, for instance to "clear out" infected or weakened blood or to stop hemorrhaging. Some forms of bloodletting persisted into the 20th century.

Bloodletting 1860. One of only three known bloodletting photographs (tintype). Source


1492: First Historical Transfusion Attempt

The blood of three 10-year-old boys was infused by mouth into Pope Innocent VIII as he sank into a coma. The Pope and the boys died.

1667: First Recorded Human Transfusion

The first fully documented human blood transfusion was administered in France. King Louis XIV's doctor transfused the blood of a sheep into a 15-year-old boy, who survived. 

1818: First Recorded Human-to-Human Transfusion

British obstetrician and physiologist James Blundell performs the first recorded human-to-human blood transfusion. He injected a patient suffering from internal bleeding with 12 to 14 ounces of blood from several donors. The patient died after initially showing improvement.

1901: Three Main Blood Groups Discovered

Discovery of the three main human blood groups, A, B, and C, which is later changed to O. Research charts the regular pattern of reaction that occurs after mingling the serum and red cells of an initial set of six blood specimens. 

1902: Fourth Blood Group Discovered

Fourth blood group, AB, is identified.

1907: First Use of Cross Matching

Cross matching checks the blood of donors and recipients for signs of incompatibility.

1914: First Non-Direct Transfusion

The first transfusions had to be made directly from donor to receiver before coagulation. Researchers discover that adding sodium citrate to blood will prevent it from clotting. Adding anticoagulant and refrigerating the blood made it possible to store it for days, opening the way for blood banking.

1917: First Blood Depot

Army doctor collects and stores type O blood, with citrate-glucose solution, in advance of the Battle of Cambrai in World War I.

Pope Innocent VIII 1492 1492. Pope Innocent VIII. Source


James Blundell c.1820. James Blundell. Source


The Impact of War

1922: Blood Donor Service Established in London

Volunteers agree to be on 24-hour call and to travel to local hospitals to give blood as the need arises. All volunteers are screened for disease, tested for blood type, and their names are entered into a phone log.

1930: First Network of Blood Facilities

The Soviets are the first to establish a network of facilities to collect and store blood for use in transfusions at hospitals.

1935: First In-Hospital Blood Facilities

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN is the first to begin storing citrated blood and utilizing it for transfusions within a hospital setting in the U.S.

1936: Barcelona Blood-Transfusion Service

The Barcelona Blood-Transfusion Service collects blood, tests it, pools it by blood group, preserves and stores it in bottles under refrigeration, and by way of vehicles fitted with refrigerators, transports it to front line hospitals during the Spanish Civil War.

1937: Term "Blood Bank" Coined

Dr. Bernard Fantus at Chicago's Cook Co. Hospital coins the term "blood bank."

1939-40: Discovery of Rh Blood Group

Discovery of the Rh blood group and identification of the antibody causing still births as the anti-Rh.

1940: U.S. Sends Blood Plasma to Great Britain

U.S. processes, tests, and stores plasma for shipment to Great Britain.

1941: Red Cross Organizes Blood Plasma War Effort

Red Cross agrees to organize a civilian blood donor service to collect blood plasma for the war effort.

1943: Transfusion-Transmitted Hepatitis

First description of transfusion-transmitted hepatitis.

1947: American Association of Blood Banks

Community blood banks join together to form a national network of blood banks called the American Association of Blood Banks.

1948: Development of Plastic Bag

Development of the plastic bag revolutionizes blood collection.

1962: America's Blood Centers Founded

Seven community-based blood centers came together with the help of local hospitals, physicians and civic groups to establish America's Blood Centers.

1964: Community Blood Center Established

Community Blood Center (CBC) established in a Dayton medical building basement.

1971: CBC Moves to Current Location

CBC moved to current Dayton headquarters.

1965: Cryoprecipitates Developed

The discovery that slowly thawed frozen plasma yields deposits high in Factor VIII. These deposits, called cryoprecipitates - or cryo - are found to have much greater clotting power than plasma and are given to hemophiliacs to stop bleeding episodes.

1971: FDA Regulation

Regulation of blood banking transfers from the Division of Biologics Standards (DBS) to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

1971: Testing for Hepatitis B

Development of a test for hepatitis B antibodies, thereby identifying infected donors; the test is mandated by the FDA.

American Red Cross in Great Britain c.1918. Amercian Red Cross in Great Britain. Source


American Red Cross World War II Poster 1941-1945. American Red Cross World War II Poster. Source


Plastic Blood Bag The plastic blood bag was introduced to blood banking shortly after World War II.


America's Blood Centers logo America's Blood Centers was founded in 1962.


Thumb_education_toursbldg Community Blood Center, founded in 1964, maintains its headquarters in Dayton, OH.

The Era of Aids

1981: First Case of AIDS

The first cases of a syndrome initially called GRID (Gay-related Immunodeficiency Disease), due to its prevalence among gay men, are reported. It is later renamed AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

1982: Blood-Borne Theory

When hemophiliacs also begin to develop GRID, theory developed that the syndrome may be blood borne.

1983: AIDS Virus Isolated

Researchers isolate the virus that causes AIDS.

1984: AIDS Virus Identified

Virus that causes AIDS identified as HTLV III - human T-cell lymphotropic virus.

1985: First AIDS Blood-Screening Test

First blood-screening test to detect the presence or absence of HIV antibodies. The ELISA test is universally adopted by American blood banks and plasma centers.

1999: NAT Testing

Blood centers in the United States begin implementation of Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) for all blood donations. It narrows the so-called window period - after - a donor is infected by HIV, Hepatitis-B and Hepatitis-C but - before - the condition is detectable by routine methods.

HIV ELISA Test 2007. CDC microbiologist conducting an ELISA blood-screening test. Source