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Red Gold - the epic story of blood Blood Journey: Phase 4: Blood Banks
Blood Journey Blood History Blood Basics Innovators and Pioneers Education Ask the Experts
Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3 Phase 4 Phase 5 Phase 6

Donated blood must now be tested, stored, and distributed.
Blood groups were not identified until 1901, and in the century since then medical science has not looked back. In the years that immediately followed, hospitals relied on donors to give blood "on the hoof" -- tubes connected donor and recipient, and the blood flowed directly from the former to the latter.
Doctor with donor Article:

The Blood Center
Here, even more testing is done.
Testing blood Article:

Storage and Distribution
Preparing blood for those who need it.
The computerized process helps diminish human error and enables us to track each unit of blood.
Fortunately, today's donors and recipients do not face such inconveniences. Technological innovation, medical understanding, and organizational acumen have improved storage, testing, and distribution immeasurably. The blood bag, for example, was designed such that blood goes straight from the donor's bloodstream into the bag, and then from the bag to the recipient's bloodstream, without coming into contact with air and its potential contaminants. (The blood bag was also designed, more than a half-century ago, to survive a 2,000-foot fall.)

At the blood center -- "blood bank" a slight misnomer, since "withdrawals" do not require previous "deposits" -- blood is thoroughly tested, and then distributed. Since the development of an accurate test for the HIV virus, the blood supply has never been safer.

Blood being tested

A doctor describes the rigorous testing of donated blood.
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Diagram of vessels in arm

Then:Prior to the 20th century, blood banks did not exist. The only blood storage facility was the human body.

Now:Blood centers can store blood for up to 42 days. Frozen blood can be stored for years.

Continue to Phase 5: The Transfusion

Photos: Woman donating blood (center left) and drawing of an arm readied for transfusion (center right), courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.

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