A blood bank collects, separates, tests and stores blood until a patient needs it. If you’ve donated blood before, you’ve been part of the blood banking process.
The first blood bank in the United States was established in 1937 by Dr. Bernard Fantus at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. At the time, it was not possible to store blood for more than a few days. Most transfusions were person-to-person, a dangerous process which made it hard to find donors.
Hoping to solve this problem, Dr. Fantus began experimenting with ways to safely store blood. Initially called the Blood Preservation Laboratory, he changed the name to “blood bank” which was less likely to scare away potential donors. The ability to collect and store blood for an extended period of time revolutionized how doctors treated patients. Donating blood was no longer a high-risk process and patients in need had access to blood they needed for survival.