The first recorded successful human blood transfusion was accomplished in 1818, but due to the lack of knowledge and research, it was followed by many blood transfusion failures. Some 80 years later, it was discovered that inherited differences in people's red cells were the cause of many of the incompatibilites seen with transfusions. Four blood types were identified - A, B, AB and O. This discovery revolutionized hematology and led the way for successful blood transfusions.
During World War I, when human blood was needed for transfusions for wounded soldiers, scientists began to study how to preserve and transport blood. But it was not until World War II that the development of effective preservative solutions made blood transfusions widely and safely available. Since then, there have been many advances, such as the discovery of the Rh blood group system and technical developments such as the introduction of the plastic bag for safer blood collection.
By the end of 1947, several blood banks had been established in major cities across the
Freezing of red blood cells, separation of different blood components by centrifugation, apheresis (extraction of one blood component and returning the rest to the donor) and many other discoveries and advancements make for full utilization of every donation. Each blood element can be used to treat different diseases.
Today, in light of HIV, Hepatitis C and many other diseases, the federal government has enforced regulations for blood screening tests in an effort to improve blood safety and to reduce the risk from blood transfusions. To further ensure the safety of the blood supply, the government outlawed paying someone for his or her blood.
Human blood is precious. There is no substitute for it and there is no way to manufacture it outside the body. Yet, millions of times each year, human blood is required to save the lives of people suffering from disease or who are victims of accidents.