AABB 75th Hero Graphic

Celebrating Our Past, Present and Future!

Immerse yourself in AABB's history by strolling through our timeline of groundbreaking advancements and compelling achievements. Throughout 2022, we will reveal pieces of our 75-year history along with stories, activities, and engagement opportunities.

AABB News 75th Anniversary Commemorative Issue

Download the AABB News 75th Anniversary Commemorative Issue

Celebrate AABB’s milestone occasion with a commemorative issue of AABB News featuring a compilation of the history articles this year. This issue is provided free for members.


FOUNDING (1947 - 1968)

The AABB story begins after a tragic accident illustrates the need for coordination of blood banking practices. The newly formed association coalesces around this vital mission.

  1. APRIL 16, 1947

    April 16, 1947Freighter “Grandcamp” explodes while docked at Texas City wharf, setting off a chain of events leading to the development of AABB

    NOVEMBER 17, 1947

    November 17, 1947Minutes into the Blood Bank Institute – the first formal gathering of nationwide blood bankers – Marjorie Sauders introduces “…a request signed by 67 of you…which I would like to read: ‘The undersigned urgently request that the Blood Bank Institute seriously consider at the earliest possible moment the formation of an American Association of Blood Banks.’”

  2. 1948

    AABB hosts its first Annual Meeting.

    NOVEMBER 5, 1948

    November 5, 1948AABB is incorporated as a nonprofit organization in the state of Illinois establishment of American Association of Blood Banks.

  3. 1950

    Carl Walter and W.P. Murphy Jr. introduce the plastic bag for blood collection, replacing breakable glass bottles with durable plastic bags, in one of the single most influential developments in blood banking.

    Development of the refrigerated centrifuge in 1953 further expedites blood component therapy.

  4. 1951

    What is past is but prologue to the future. It is my hope that one day every facility, in a spirit of give and take, will be routinely coordinating their inventories and sharing blood supplies with each other. - Bernice M. HemphillBernice M. Hemphill conceives the idea for a blood clearinghouse.

    California Blood Bank SystemThe first blood clearinghouse opens in San Francisco to service 10 blood banks in the California Blood Bank System.

  5. 1953

    The National Clearinghouse Lifeline Program of AABB begins. The idea, submitted by Bernice Hemphill, calls for dividing the United States into five geographic districts with a blood clearinghouse to serve each region.

    The first AABB technical manual is published, titled Technical Methods and Procedures for Blood Banks and Transfusion Services.

  6. 1954

    1954The AABB Bulletin is unveiled, edited by Marion Rymer, PhD, with contributions by members.

    • The Blood Bank Technologist certification begins.

    • The Specialist in Blood Banking certification begins.

    • AABB hands out the Karl Landsteiner Award, the first award ever given at an AABB Annual Meeting. The award, given this year to Reuben Ottenberg, MD, recognizes original research resulting in an important contribution to the body of scientific knowledge.

  7. 1956

    1956The John Elliott Memorial Award is established to honor John Elliott, DSc, who devised the closed system for the collection of blood into evacuated bottles. This award recognizes an individual who has given outstanding service to AABB.

  8. 1957

    The AABB Inspection and Accreditation Program is created, and the first inspection for accreditation occurs at Providence Hospital Blood Bank in Detroit.

  9. 1958

    AABB, along with the Joint Blood Council, produces the first official Standards for a Transfusion Service.

    AABB establishes its first central office in Chicago, better enabling it to focus its efforts and increase membership through direct mail and recruitment.

  10. 1959

    1959• The AABB Reference Laboratory Program is created.

    • The Rare Donor File begins.

    • Max Perutz of Cambridge University deciphers the molecular structure of hemoglobin, the molecule that transports oxygen and gives red blood cells their color.

  11. 1961

    AABB unveils the first issue of TRANSFUSION, a scholarly journal that replaces the AABB Bulletin by expanding its educational purpose to include more scientific and technical research.

    San Francisco is selected as the site of the National Clearinghouse offices. AABB requests 100% participation from member blood banks. The National Clearinghouse begins serving 2,965 patients in 621 blood banks.

  12. 1963

    The Ivor Dunsford Memorial Award is created to honor the British scientist and teacher, who made valuable contributions to blood group serology and genetics. This award recognizes outstanding technical performance.

  13. 1964

    1964Plasmapheresis is introduced as a means of collecting plasma for fractionation.

  14. 1968

    AABB/Fenwal Scholarships are created to promote interest in research, development and continuing education in the field of blood banking.

DRIVING (1970 - 1989)

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, AABB continues to drive patient and donor safety while advancing the field.

  1. 1970

    President Nixon proclaims January as the first “National Blood Donor Month” to honor voluntary blood donor and to help blood centers recruit new donors.

  2. 1971

    1971Postmaster General Winton M. Blount announces the design of a postage stamp to salute blood donors. AABB is the sole sponsor of the First Day of Issue preview ceremony for the 6-cent commemorative stamp on March 11.

    Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) testing of donated blood begins.

  3. 1972

    1972The process of apheresis is developed – used to extract one cellular component and returning the rest of the blood to the donor.

    AABB moves its headquarters from Chicago to Washington, D.C., and celebrates its 25th anniversary.

  4. 1974

    Administrative and Scientific sections of the AABB Board are created.

  5. 1975

    The Morten Grove-Rasmussen Memorial Award is created to honor the physician who led the development of the AABB Reference Laboratory Program and Rare Donor File. It recognizes advances in the field of immunohematology and/or transfusion therapy at a practical level.

    Bernice Hemphill is elected president of AABB, the first woman to hold this office.

  6. 1979

    A new anticoagulant preservative, CPDA-1, is developed, extending the shelf life of whole blood and red blood cells to 35 days, increasing the blood supply and facilitating resource sharing among blood banks.

    Blood Replacement Exchange and Blood Cooperative are initiated.

    An AABB Ad Hoc Committee recommends AABB incorporate the Clearinghouse as a subsidiary.

    Northeast District office relocates to offices owned by the New York Academy of Medicine at 2 East 103rd Street, New York.

  7. 1980

    AABB now serve patients in more than 2,000 hospital transfusion services.

    The National Clearinghouse ships nearly 200,000 units of blood between participating facilities.

  8. 1981

    1981The first case of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is reported.

    The Outstanding Administrator Award is established and renamed the Bernice Hemphill Award in 1991 to honor her commitment to AABB. The award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions through the association to enhance the management of blood banks.

  9. 1982

    1982AABB holds its first international conference on parentage testing, which leads to the creation of the AABB Parentage Testing Program.

  10. 1983

    The National Blood Foundation (NBF) is created and charged with supporting AABB by raising money for, and monitoring the allocation of, scientific and administrative research grants.

    AABB first becomes involved in issues concerning hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) to update blood facilities about the special needs of bone marrow transplant patients for hematologic support.

    The Donor Resources Achievement Award is established to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions nationally.

    The National Clearinghouse endows the newly formed AABB Foundation with $500,000.

  11. 1984

    Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is identified as the cause of AIDS.

    The National office and National Clearinghouse Lifeline Program move to Arlington, Va.

    After 31 years of service, Bernice Hemphill steps down as chair of the AABB National Clearinghouse Program Committee.

    Standard fee for platelets, cryoprecipitates and fresh frozen plasma (FFP) increases from $15 to $20.

  12. 1985

    1985The first blood-screening test to detect HIV is licensed and quickly implemented by blood banks to advance the safety of the blood supply.

    844 direct, auxiliary and affiliate participants serve patients in 1,873 transfusion services.

    The National Clearinghouse participates with the U.S. Department of Defense on emergency preparedness program.

  13. 1986

    The National Clearinghouse changes its name to the National Blood Exchange (NBE). At this time, the NBE serves patients in 1,759 transfusion services with more than 400,000 transactions processed per year.

  14. 1987

    1987Two tests that screen for indirect evidence of hepatitis are developed and implemented: hepatitis B core antibody (anti-HBc) and the alanine aminotransferase test.

    The first case of transfusion-transmitted Chagas’ disease is reported in the U.S.

    AABB celebrates its 40th anniversary.

  15. 1989

    Human-T-Lymphotropic-Virus-I-antibody (anti-HTLV-I) testing of donated blood begins.

AABB will be adding to our 75 year timeline as we continue to celebrate throughout the year.

Do you have an AABB milestone, story or image to share? Please email us and attach your image(s) along with your name and contact information.

Please note that by sending photos, you give AABB permission to post or print them in AABB communication vehicles.


Tag Us on Social Media - #75yrsAABB

Do you have any cherished photos of yourself or AABB colleagues? Perhaps an Annual Meeting selfie? Maybe you and your staff in AABB t-shirts? Post your photos, videos or stories to your social media accounts and tag us: #75yrsAABB.

Share the Moment

How it Started

How it started.

How it's going.

Show your career journey with an Instagram story template.


Get the Template

How it's Going


Join in the AABB 75th Anniversary celebration with a sharp t-shirt or coffee mug. They make great gifts!

Shop the CollectionShop the Collection


Transfusion Cover Jan 2022

Enrich Your Understanding through Classic Articles

TRANSFUSION, AABB’s peer-reviewed journal, is observing the AABB’s anniversary year with a series of classic articles, each accompanied by a commentary on the article’s impact and how the science has evolved. The monthly series was introduced in a January editorial from Editor-in-Chief Richard Kaufman, MD.

The rich tradition of research by AABB members and their colleagues reported in the pages of TRANSFUSION is well worth the time to read. The January issue is a stellar example. The commentary by Rainier Storb, MD, discusses an article from 1962 by E.D. Thomas, MD, and J.W. Ferrebee, MD, titled “Prolonged storage of marrow and its use in the treatment of radiation injury.” Storb asks, “What was notewothy about the brief report?” and “Why did it matter?” (Spoiler alert: Thomas was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1990 for developing stem cell transplantation.)

The series will continue throughout 2022.


Take a look at some of the historical news items from our 75-year history.

Texas City Disaster Demonstrated Need for National Coordination

January 11, 2022

In 1947, the French freighter SS Grandchamp exploded while docked in Texas City. Many consider this disaster to have contributed indirectly to the formation of the American Association of Blood Banks.

AABB History: The Formation of a New American Association of Blood Banks

February 17, 2022

After the end of World War II, many professionals recognized the need for a national blood banking organization through which they could share best practices, provide staff training and standardize procedures.

AABB History: Major Strides Made in First Decade

March 17, 2022

AABB's first full decade was impressive by any measure. Much of what we take for granted today did not exist in the early 40s and 50s. We owe early AABB members gratitude for their vision and wisdom.

What a Difference a Decade Makes. Or Not.

April 14, 2022

In contrast to the upheaval that marked much of the 1960s, AABB continued steadily building on its earlier progress and making great strides.

AABB News: At the Vortex

May 20, 2022

At the conclusion of AABB's 30th year, then-President Howard F. Taswell, MD, reflected that AABB had been at the vortex of matters important to blood bankers.

AABB History: Challenges and Change

June 17, 2022

John D. Milam, MD, the 1983-84 AABB president, once observed that “Our diversified, dedicated, and energetic members (both institutional and individual) represent our greatest asset and strength.”

AABB History: Embracing New Paradigms in the 1990s

July 19, 2022

“We look forward to the challenges and the successes ahead as we continue to be the organization that is respected worldwide for its expertise. . . This is yet one more reason I am proud to be a member of AABB.”

AABB History: No Shortage of Significant Developments

August 3, 2022

In late 2007 (AABB’s 60th year), AABB News asked four leaders to identify the most significant developments in recent years that had shaped the field and had the potential to continue to make meaningful changes into the future.

AABB History: “But, Lo, There is Still Room Under Our Tent"

September 12, 2022

In the most recent decade of AABB’s history, our Association expanded its work and membership base.