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Blood Services
As the most visible division of Biomedical Services, Blood Services is touching more lives than ever before. The use of current medical technologies allows us to provide the nation with a variety of blood products that are as safe as possible. And today, we continue setting new standards for safety and quality.

Tissue Services
For more than twenty years, the American Red Cross provided allograft tissue for transplant through its Tissue Services Program. We cared for thousands of donor families who gave the gift of tissue donation and helped more than 1 million transplant recipients in need of this life saving or life-enhancing gift of tissue.

At the end of January, 2005, the American Red Cross made the difficult decision to end its Tissue Services program in order to focus on its primary missions of Disaster Relief and Blood Services. The tissue program may have ended, but the need to consider giving the gift of organ and tissue donation did not. The American Red Cross encourages everyone to learn more about this end-of-life gift that can save of the lives of as many as 8 people, and enhance the lives of more than 50 people.

Investing in the Future
Because the Red Cross never stops inventing new ways to care, the organization is looking far into the 21st century at the future of blood services.

In February 1999, the Red Cross completed its "Transformation," a $287 million program that:

  • re-engineered Red Cross Blood Services' processing, testing and distribution system;
  • established a new management structure; and
  • positioned the Red Cross as a cutting-edge organization prepared to enter the 21st century.

As a result, Red Cross Biomedical Services now has:

  • A standardized computer system that efficiently maintains our blood donor database;
  • a network of eight, state-of-the-art National Testing Laboratories (NTLs) that test about 6 million units of blood collected by the Red Cross's 36 blood regions;
  • the Charles Drew Biomedical Institute, which allows for the Red Cross to provide training and other educational resources to Red Cross Blood Services' personnel;
  • a highly qualified Quality Assurance/Regulatory Affairs Department, which helps to ensure compliance with FDA regulations in every Red Cross Blood Services region; and,
  • a centrally managed blood inventory system to ensure the consistent availability of blood and blood components in every Red Cross Blood Services region throughout the country.

Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT)
On March 1, 1999, the American Red Cross became the first U.S. blood banking organization to implement a Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) study. This process is different from traditional testing because it looks for the genetic material of HIV and hepatitis C (HCV), rather than the body's response to the disease.

The NAT tests for HIV and HCV have been licensed by the FDA. These tests are able to detect the genetic material of a transfusion-transmitted virus like HIV without waiting for the body to form antibodies- potentially offering an important time advantage over current techniques.

A person's own leukocytes (white blood cells) help fight off foreign substances such as bacteria, viruses and abnormal cells, to avoid sickness or disease. But when transfused to another person, these same leukocytes do not benefit the recipient. In fact, these foreign leukocytes in transfused red blood cells and platelets are often not well tolerated and have been associated with some types of transfusion complications.

The Red Cross is moving toward system-wide universal prestorage leukocyte reduction to improve patient care.

Research and Development
Our national research program makes significant contributions to biomedical science, blood safety, plasma-derived therapeutics and transfusion technology.

The Red Cross operates one of the world's premier blood research facilities, the Jerome H. Holland Laboratory, based in Rockville, Md., where Red Cross researchers are engaged in cutting-edge research to develop the next generation of blood products and services. Each year, the Red Cross invests more than $25 million in research activities at the Holland Laboratory and in the field. This commitment to research allows the Red Cross to oversee dozens of scientific research projects seeking to improve the safety, purity and efficacy of blood.

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