Blood Banks – Everything You Need to Know

Blood Banks – Everything You Need to Know

Blood Banks

Blood Banks – Everything You Need to Know

The term “blood banking” has been around since 1937, but the practice of using donated blood for various medical reasons has been around for thousands of years. Yes, you read that right, thousands! How and where did blood banks start? What happens to your blood after you donate? And what are the benefits of donating blood?

You’ve got questions; we’ve got answers! Let’s dive into everything you need to know about blood banking — including what blood banks are, their history, how they work, and why you should consider donating blood today. 

What is a Blood Bank?

Blood banks are facilities that collect, type, process, test, and store blood until it is needed for a transfusion or some other medical procedure. While whole blood is the most common blood product stored in these facilities, it is not unusual to find platelets, plasma, or red cells as well. After the blood is stored, hospitals order the blood they need based on their patient load. 

History of Blood Banking

As we look at the history of blood banking, it helps to understand why it’s important to store blood in the first place. In the modern day, blood stored in banks is used for blood transfusions during surgeries, to treat injured patients suffering from blood loss, and in many other medical situations. Before blood banking, blood transfusions had to be performed directly from a donor to the patient; otherwise, the blood would coagulate and become unusable. 

Before transfusions, bloodletting was a common procedure used in medical practice as early as 2000 BC. The thought was that by performing a controlled bleed on a patient, doctors could rid them of infected or weak blood. We know now, however, that this isn’t very effective. The practice of bloodletting faced opposition beginning in the 1800s and gradually began to fall out of fashion. Interestingly, bloodletting has widely been considered a medical precursor to modern-day blood transfusions. 

The first blood transfusion to a human was recorded in 1667 when King Louis XIV’s doctor transfused blood from a sheep to a 15-year-old boy. Miraculously, the boy lived following this procedure. In 1818, the first recorded human-to-human blood transfusion was performed. Unfortunately, after showing initial improvement, the patient who received this transfusion died from their ailments. 

From here, blood-related science made impressive strides. In 1901 and 1902, researchers discovered the four primary blood types A, B, O, and AB. A few years later, in 1914, medical professionals determined that blood could be stored for several days without coagulating when combined with sodium citrate and refrigerated. With this breakthrough, transfusions no longer had to be completed directly from donor to recipient.

Because blood could now be stored ahead of use, the concept of what we know as blood banking soon followed. In 1917, an army doctor stored type O blood before the Battle of Cambrai in World War I. Then, in 1922, the first blood donor service opened in London. The idea spread worldwide, and the first network of blood facilities opened in the Soviet Union in 1930. Five years later, the Mayo Clinic opened the first in-hospital blood facility in Rochester, MN. Finally, in 1937, Dr. Bernard Fantus of Chicago’s Cook County Hospital coined the term “blood bank.”

With this global perspective in mind, let’s bring this history a little closer to home in the Upstate of South Carolina. In 1962, a group of physicians teamed up with hospital managers and civic leaders to create the Greenville Blood Assurance Plan. After being named the Carolina-Georgia Blood Center in 1981, the organization underwent one more name change in 2000 — and it’s been known as The Blood Connection ever since. 

How Blood Banks Work

Blood banks like The Blood Connection work by collecting blood from a network of volunteer donors. Donations can take place in an established center or a mobile unit. During the donation process, volunteers give a pint of blood that is collected into a sterile plastic storage bag. The blood is then sent to a processing center where it is centrifuged (to separate plasma and platelets) and tested for various blood-borne diseases. If testing reveals a transmissible disease, the donor is notified, and the blood is discarded. Blood that has been tested and determined to be safe for recipients is then stored for up to 42 days.

So, how exactly does blood get to the patients? Hospitals order the blood they need based on their patient load. There is always a need for blood, which is why volunteers’ donations are greatly appreciated. Often, there will be pushes for blood donations in response to natural disasters or shootings. As you might imagine, there is a greater need for blood in areas impacted by flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other catastrophic events that injure many people. Blood banks are always reaching out to volunteer donors, which brings us to our final question: Why should you donate to a blood bank?

Why You Should Donate Blood

Donating to blood banks has a tremendously positive impact on your community. Every donation saves a life — sometimes, a single donation can save up to three lives! According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, 36,000 units of blood are needed every day in the United States. Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood or platelets. That’s why donations are crucial — the more safe blood that blood banks have on hand, the more patients they can help. In the past two years, there have been several blood shortages, as the trend of low blood donor turnout continues after the pandemic. Current trends indicate that only about 3% of age-eligible people donate blood each year, which is why every donation inspires so much gratitude. The hope for blood centers is that this percentage will rise. 

We appreciate every donation our volunteers make, and we show this appreciation by offering rewards for our blood donors! Each reward is our way of saying thank you for being a lifesaver and giving back to this incredible community we call home! 

To learn more about donating blood and find out whether you are eligible, visit

All About Blood

All About Blood

All About Blood

All About Blood

What’s one thing you have in common with everyone you meet? Blood. whether you’re O+ or AB-, everybody has blood, and it plays a critical role in keeping you alive. In fact, blood probably does more for your body than you realize. You know that you need blood, but what does it do inside your body? How is it helping you? And after donating blood, how does your body replenish what you gave? Let’s dive into it! 

What is Blood?

You likely already have a pretty good idea of what blood is, but let’s bolster your understanding with a scientific definition. Blood is a bodily fluid in the circulatory system that travels via blood vessels to transport vital substances through the body and take waste products away from organs and tissues. Blood consists of four distinct parts:

  • Plasma – the liquid part of the blood
  • Red blood cells – the cells that carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body
  • White blood cells – the cells responsible for fighting infections in the body
  • Platelets – blood cells that clot and control bleeding

Without blood, your body wouldn’t be able to get the nutrients and oxygen it needs, nor could it fight off infection and keep you healthy. To fully understand the critical importance of your blood, let’s take a closer look at what it does.

What Does Blood Do?

As mentioned, blood travels through the body to deliver nutrients and remove waste. Your blood vessels function like a complex highway network that weaves through different parts of your body.  Blood is the carrier that travels this highway. Deliveries on this blood highway include vital elements such as oxygen, vitamins, hormones, antibodies, heat, and electrolytes. 

Not only is blood an effective delivery service for your body, but it is also a reliable waste manager. As it travels through the body, the blood picks up carbon dioxide and other waste products that your body doesn’t need and takes them to the kidneys, lungs, and digestive system to be removed.

In addition to these remarkable, life-sustaining functions, blood fights infections and heals bodily injuries. Blood contains white blood cells, which fight off harmful, foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Also, if you’ve ever gotten a scab from a cut or scrape on your body, that scab is another example of your blood taking care of you. After an injury, blood rushes platelets to the injury site, where they cause the blood to clot and harden, sealing the wound and ensuring you don’t lose any more blood. This scab also keeps dirt, bacteria, and other harmful contaminants from entering the bloodstream. 

How Blood Travels Through the Body

Blood travels through the body via blood vessels that comprise the circulatory system, and your heart is responsible for pumping blood through those vessels. Blood leaves the heart through blood vessels called arteries, starting with the aorta. As blood travels through the body, carrying its delivery of essential nutrients and oxygen, it then passes through capillaries, which are thin vessels that connect the arteries and veins. The thin walls of capillaries allow oxygen, nutrients, carbon dioxide, and waste to pass to and from tissues in the body. 

From here, veins take deoxygenated blood back to the heart. As veins get closer to the heart, they get bigger in diameter, eventually merging into two primary veins known as the vena cava.  The superior vena cava is responsible for bringing blood from the head and arms, and the inferior vena cava carries blood from the abdomen and legs. The system of blood vessels in an adult human body is over 60,000 miles long, enough to wrap around the earth twice!

How the Body Cleans Blood

To rid itself of the waste it gathers throughout the body, blood must be cleaned. The three major organs that contribute to the cleansing process are the liver, lungs, and kidneys. The liver filters toxins and unwanted byproducts and extracts nutrients to be passed on to the rest of the body. Lungs remove unwanted gasses (carbon dioxide) and release them through breath. Finally, kidneys filter waste and byproducts that are then removed through the urinary system. 

Replenishing Blood After Donating

The average human adult has approximately 10 pints of blood in their body, and a typical donation of blood equals one pint. After losing this blood, your body works to replenish that pint. First, your body will notice that it has lost some red blood cells, and your kidneys will sound the alarm. The peritubular cells in the kidneys will sense the lower level of oxygen (due to the lack of red blood cells) and secrete a protein called erythropoietin. This protein is released into the bloodstream and then travels to the bone marrow. 

Bone marrow is where the magic happens. This spongy substance found in the center of bones is where stem cells are produced. Stem cells are the foundation of all other cells in the body, as they form the foundation for whatever cells the body needs. In this instance, because of the erythropoietin produced by kidneys, your body knows that these stem cells need to be made into red blood cells. From here, the stem cells will divide and become immature red blood cells that continue to divide and mature until your red blood cell count rebuilds to its original level. Within 24 hours of donating, your blood volume will be replenished; however, red blood cells take 4-6 weeks to be replaced entirely. 

Blood is vital to our bodies, so it’s crucial for blood banks to have enough of it on hand to help patients in need. That’s where you come in. Blood banks like The Blood Connection rely on volunteer donors to keep blood supplies stocked, because it can’t be made or manufactured anywhere else. 

To learn more about donating and to find a donation center near you, visit

Donate Mate: Give Back at Outback

Donate Mate: Give Back at Outback

There’s never been a better time to stop by your local Outback Steakhouse! And The Blood Connection is giving you an easy way to eat for FREE.

TBC and Outback Steakhouse are working together to spread the word about blood donation. Partnerships like this are essential to the community’s blood supply. Outback Steakhouse’s enthusiasm to partner with TBC to host blood drives has helped TBC reach new donors and save more lives!

On December 1, 2022, select Outback Steakhouse locations in the Carolinas will host The Blood Connection for a collective blood drive. Blood donors will receive a $20 Outback eGift card and a free Bloomin’ Onion. After donating, donors can walk right in and enjoy a free dinner at Outback, a ‘thank you’ for saving lives!

Find a Mobile Blood Drive

December 1st at select Outback Steakhouse Locations

Click on the Location Name to make an appointment. 

North Carolina

901 Walnut St.
3500 Mount Moriah Rd.
845 US Hwy. 70 W.
Asheville 30 Tunnel Rd.
New Bern
111 Howell Rd.
7500 Creedmoor Rd.
911 Outlet Center Dr
9623 East Independence Blvd.

South Carolina 

1646 J.B. White SR Blvd
252 F Harbison Blvd.
110 Dunbarton Drive
Mt. Pleasant
715 Johnnie Dodds Boulevard
North Myrtle Beach
1721 Highway 17 North
2113 Boundary Street

Giving Blood – A Great Experience at the Charleston Center

Giving Blood – A Great Experience at the Charleston Center

Giving Blood – A Great Experience

A blog by donor Kae Childs who gave at the Charleston Center

Giving blood is one of the most satisfying things I have done in a while! Of course, during the pandemic I haven’t done too much! But in years past, the times I have attempted to donate, the attendant who was taking my blood pressure would say things like “Are you feeling ok?” “Your blood pressure is extremely low and I’m sorry but we can’t take your blood today.” This happened so many times when I told my doctor about it, he said, “Don’t try to give any more. You just have low blood pressure.”

My son in law has been a regular donor for years.  When I was keeping their dogs recently I heard from the answering machine a missed call message from The Blood Connection reminding him to come in and give blood. That struck something inside of me to try again to give.

I kept hearing after I returned to Daniel Island about how blood was especially needed during Covid. I called to see what the correct protocol was to give in our area. I explained my past low blood pressure experience. She said to just come in and they could check to see if I were eligible. I took off because something told me that this time I could do it.

I arrived at The Blood Connection and sat down for her to ask me some questions.  She put the blood pressure cuff on my arm. The bottom number she said had to be at least 50. Mine was 51! She said, you’re good to go. Do you want to give? I did!

I finished answering all of the necessary questions on the form and was given a bottle of water to quickly drink. I was ushered into a large room with lots of big, black chairs. Surprisingly I wasn’t scared but just a little bit. She had no trouble (she was the expert) finding a good vein and within 30 minutes we were finished.

Over to the refreshment area she directed me where I picked out some crackers and a Sprite. On the wall I saw a poster that said by giving blood I had just saved three lives. Imagine that! I knew right then that I was hooked. I could hardly wait until time to give again. Next time, I thought to myself, I may even try to give plasma!

The Life-Saving Partnership with NewSpring Church

The Life-Saving Partnership with NewSpring Church

NewSpring Church Blood Drive Info


To show your support during this season of unknowns, make an appointment by following the links above. Your donation could give someone another day. *We strongly recommend that all donors make an appointment to adequately practice social distancing


Sammy Lewis and His 200th Donation

Sammy Lewis and His 200th Donation

Sammy Lewis and His 200th Donation

Meet Sammy Lewis! He has been donating blood with The Blood Connection when TBC first opened in 1962! Sammy said that he was donating one day on Grove Rd. in Greenville, SC when he saw people watching TV and was told they were donating platelets. This is what first sparked his interest in platelet donation! Sammy say, ” I remember the good old days when there was a needle in both arms.”

In 2009, he and his wife started to regularly donate blood as a family. This decision led to March 9th when Sammy hit his 200th donation with The Blood Connection! 

We are so blessed to have donors like Sammy and his wife who sacrifice their time and stand up for their community.