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Blood bank:  A place where blood is collected from donors, typed, separated into components, stored, and prepared for transfusion to recipients. A blood bank may be a separate free-standing facility or part of a larger laboratory in a hospital.

Separation of blood: Typically, each donated unit of blood (whole blood) is separated into multiple components, such as red blood cells, plasma and platelets. Each component is generally transfused to a different individual, each with different needs.

An increasingly common blood bank procedure is apheresis, or the process of removing a specific component of the blood, such as platelets, and returning the remaining components, such as red blood cells and plasma, to the donor. This process allows more of one particular part of the blood to be collected than could be separated from a unit of whole blood. Apheresis is also performed to collect plasma (the liquid part of the blood) and granulocytes (white blood cells).

Who receives blood: Accident victims, people undergoing surgery and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or other diseases, such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia, all utilize blood. Over 20 million units of blood components are transfused every year in the US.

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