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Blood Banks and Blood Safety

BBBS - haiti roomtemp

The contents in this hybrid refrigerator at a hospital in Haiti were at room temperature because there was no propane or electric power. (Photo:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Key strategies for blood safety include ensuring consistent electricity and refrigeration to maintain blood supplies at blood banks.

In many developing countries, reliable power is rarely available. Access to grid power, especially for rural facilities, simply may not be available. This lack of power or lack of steady power jeopardizes the ability of blood banks to store safe blood and blood components. Whole blood or its component must be stored, without interruption at temperatures near or below zero degrees Celsius. Failure to maintain these conditions can result in the wholesale loss of blood.


Blood Products Storage Temperature and Shelf Life
Blood ProductsStorage Temperature and ConditionShelf Life
Whole Blood 2-6°C 28-35 days
Red Cells in Additive 2-6°C 42 days
Platelet Concentrate 20-24°C under constant agitation 5 days
Frozen Plasma Below -30°C 365 days
Cryoprecipitate Below -30°C 365 days

Copyright © 2000-2005 Hong Kong Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service. All rights reserved. 15 King's Park Rise, Kowloon, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, PRC.


How can continuous power be provided to a blood bank?

All of the technologies and challenges discussed throughout this website with regards to providing reliable power to health clinics also apply to blood banks. These may include battery banks and inverter systems to provide power in times of blackouts and back up generation from diesel generators, solar panels or some combination of these technologies. Many countries have stand alone blood banks with a medium size load, making them an attractive candidates for on site renewable energy systems in cases where the grid power is non-existent or particularly unreliable.

What are the energy requirements of blood banks?

The energy requirement of a sample blood bank load is shown below. This particular facility was in Haiti, but it provides one example of the loads of typical equipment found in a blood bank:


 Blood Bank Load Inventory
AreaQtyLoadWatts EachHrs/DayWatt-hoursTotal Conn Watts
Grand Totals 13,710 11,018 24,728 2,707
Laboratory 4 Fluorescent Lamps 40 8 - 1,280 - 1,280 160
Total Lighting 1,280 - 1,280 160
Laboratory 0 CD4 Machine 200 - - - - - -
2 Heaters 100 4 - 800 - 800 200
1 Precision Scientific 500 2 - 1,000 - 1,000 500
2 Microscope 30 6 - 360 - 360 60
2 Centrifuge 400 2 - 1,600 - 1,600 800
1 TV 200 4 - 800 - 800 200
Total Equipment 4,560 - 4,560 1,760
Laboratory 1 Refrigerator for Drinks 50 10 14 500 700 1,200 50
0 Air Conditioner 1,000 10 - - - - -
1 Back-Up Refrigerator 70 10 14 700 980 1,680 70
1 Blood Bank Refrigerator 667 10 14 6,670 29,338 16,008 667
Total Refrigeration 7,870 11,018 18,888 787
Office 0 Desk Top Computer 150 - - - - - -
Total Other - - - -


What are some special considerations for blood banks?

As can be seen by the example blood bank load chart, the majority of the blood bank electrical load comes from refrigeration and air conditioning. Care should be taken to ensure that energy efficient, and properly sized refrigerators are used for each facility (see Refrigeration). Gas/electric hybrid refrigerators should be considered for facilities with intermittent power supplies. Air conditioning should only be used if absolutely required, and should not be connected to any battery back-up systems.

Additional Resources

These are links to external publications and Web sites that have information on issues related to providing reliable electricity and energy services at health facilities. USAID and Powering Health make no warrantee or guarantee regarding these external resources, and the organizations hosting these resources are solely responsible for their content.


The Blood Cold Chain

The Blood Cold Chain: Guide to the Selection and Procurement of Equipment and Accessories, World Health Organization, Nov 2002 (PDF 792K)

This is the first WHO publication dedicated to assisting managers of blood programmes to select and procure equipment and devices for the blood cold chain. This publication also aims to provide basic information on the blood cold chain and guidelines on its management.

PQS catalogue

Performance Quality Safety (PQS) Catalogue, World Health Organization, March 2013

This publication provides general information on the choice of equipment, together with specific technical and purchasing data for individual selected items.

Related Content

Cold Chain and Refrigeration Health facilities in developing countries need to maintain the cold chain to ensure that critical medicines, vaccines and supplies can reach those in need.
  • Energy Management Energy management is as much about human behavior and management as it is about technology. The actions of your staff will have a major impact on the amount of energy your health center consumes.
  • Standards and Technical Specifications Properly drafted specifications and the use of international standards can allow each energy system to be tailored to meet the needs of the facility while still ensuring best practice design and installation protocols are followed.