Red Cross Blood Services History



Charles R. Drew, MD., develops a method for processing and preserving plasma while working on his doctorate thesis, “Banked Blood,” at Columbia University. Drew pioneered a method for dehydrating and reconstituting plasma, making it easier to store and transport.







Early blood processing program for relief of English war victims, called Plasma for Britain, begins under direction of Charles R. Drew, MD.



American Red Cross begins National Blood Donor Service to collect blood for the U.S. military with Dr. Charles R. Drew, formerly of the Plasma for Britain program, as medical director.



American Red Cross ends its World War II blood program for the military after collecting more than 13 million units.



Red Cross begins the first nationwide blood program for civilians by opening its first collection center in Rochester, N.Y.



The United States blood system is comprised of 1,500 hospital blood banks, 46 community blood centers, and 31 American Red Cross Regional Blood Centers.



Red Cross becomes blood collection agency for military during Korean War.



American National Red Cross Board of Governors receives report that National Headquarters will host a national Rare Blood Donor Registry for blood types found in less than one in 200.



The American Red Cross moves toward an all-volunteer blood donor program.



Red Cross calls for national blood policy, which the federal government sets up in 1974, supporting standardized practices and an end to paid donations.



Immediately after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licenses the first test to detect the antibody to HIV on March 3rd, Red Cross Blood Services Regions begin testing all newly donated blood.



Red Cross opens its Holland Laboratory dedicated to biomedical research.



Testing of donor blood for HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibodies (anti-HIV-1 and anti-HIV-2) is implemented.

First National Testing Laboratory, applying standardized tests to ensure safety of Red Cross blood products, opens in Dedham, Mass. Today, the Red Cross performs approximately a dozen tests on each of more than 6 million blood donations a year in five state-of-the-art standardized national testing laboratories (NTILs).



Nucleic acid amplification test (NAT) for HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) licensed by the Food and Drug Administration.