ASBP: A History of the Army Blood Program
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While the Armed Services Blood Program has a long-standing history of its own (read about it here), the individual blood programs for each service also carry with them a rich history of important events, regulations and people that have shaped the way they collect, test, store and ship blood products around the world. The Army was the first service to establish a military blood bank, and although it had its fair share of struggles, it became the starting point from which a much larger program would develop. With roots that can be traced back to World War II, the Army Blood Program's history spans several decades of war and peace, and encompasses technological and procedural advancements that have shaped the way service members, retirees and their family members receive lifesaving blood.

1940s & 1950s
Influential People
1940s and 1950s
Shipment of blood going to U.S. troops in the Korean War

With roots that can be traced back to World War II, the Army Blood Program has a proud history of providing quality blood products and services for soldiers, retirees and their families in both peace and war. The establishment of the program's blood collecting facilities, transfusion services and distribution units has tremendously improved healthcare on the battlefield. According to David White and Daniel P. Murphy, Ph.D., authors of an article titled "Battlefield Injuries and Medicine," during the World War II era, a severely injured soldier had about a 50 percent chance of surviving. Today, more than 50 years later, those odds have increased significantly and ill or wounded service members have more than a 90 percent chance of survival.

Shortly after World War II broke out in Europe, LTC Douglas Kendrick initiated a blood research program at the Army Medical School and served as chief of the research program until November 1944. In 1942, the Walter Reed General Hospital established the first military blood bank. Two years later, the Army had several hospitals that were able to collect whole blood to meet their own requirements.

Later, as the Korean War intensified, the blood supply from civilian collection agencies in the U.S. was not sufficient enough to meet all the military's blood requirements. As a result, the Armed Forces Blood Donor Program was founded in 1951, although it was not formally established by Department of Defense Directive 750.10-1 until Aug. 2, 1952.

World War II
Korean War