blood donationThe first blood bank in the United States was in Chicago at Cook County Hospital (now Stroger Hospital). Hungarian-American doctor Bernard Fantus founded the blood bank in 1936.

World War I increased demand for blood transfusions. Prior to blood banks, whenever a patient needed blood doctors had to find a donor with a matching blood type immediately. To solve this problem, Dr. Fantus sought to find out if blood could be preserved for longer than a few hours and discovered that blood could be preserved for ten days. This led to key advances in modern medicine as doctors were now able to perform surgery and save lives more easily than they had in the past.

In its first year, 1,354 blood transfusions were performed at the Cook County Hospital Blood Bank. The creation and success of the first blood bank in the U.S. led to the opening of thousands more across the country. Each year, 6.8 million Americans donate blood, and more than 20 million blood components are transfused. Since 1936, countless lives have been saved because of Dr. Fantus' work.

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