American Association of Blood Banks

While visiting the websites for different cord blood banks, you may have noticed that some proudly mention that they are accredited by the AABB. While this may not seem like a big deal to you, there is a good reason why cord blood banks like to let people know that they have accreditation from the American Association of Blood Banks.

What it Means

Having the AABB seal of approval means that that particular blood bank has achieved a high level of commitment, quality and efficiency in their procedures and practices. Because accreditation by the AABB is voluntary, any company that seeks endorsement by them is looking to continuously improve their procedures in order to attain the highest level of care possible.

How Cord Blood Banks Get Accredited

Endorsement by the American Association of Blood Banks is not mandatory. A company must actively seek out the AABB and have the AABB inspectors routinely examine their facilities. Upon the AABB's suggestions, a company must then make any necessary changes to bring their lab and/or procedures up to par in order to receive accreditation. However, because it can be expensive and burdensome for a company to receive the endorsement, many choose not to have it.

Why the American Association of Blood Banks?

The AABB is the only organization in the USA that is solely concerned with blood banking, transfusion medicines, blood management, and cellular therapy. The organization is made up of experts who have many years of education, experience, and research in these fields. The AABB looks to assess and standardize the level of quality as well as the operating procedures that blood banks abide by.

Cord blood that is banked at a facility with AABB accreditation guarantees that the blood, along with the maternal blood sample, will be tested for a number of diseases and contamination. Along with this, the family health history will have to be taken. Moreover, the blood bank will have had their facilities and procedures reviewed, inspected and made compliant with the standards set out by the AABB.

The Story of AABB

Established in 1947, the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) is an international association of blood banks, including hospital and community blood centers, transfusion and transplantation services and individuals involved in activities related to transfusion and transplantation medicine.

The AABB supports high standards of medical, technical and administrative performance, scientific investigation and clinical application and education.

The mission of the AABB is to establish and promote the highest standard of care for patients and donors in all aspects of blood banking ranging from transfusion medicine (hematopoietic, cellular and gene therapies) to tissue transplantation.

The AABB seeks the development of national and/or regional standards and the development of mechanisms for assessing compliance with those standards.

In 1991, the AABB published its first Standards for Hematopoietic Progenitor Cells, which covers the collection, processing and transplantation of marrow, peripheral blood, and umbilical cord blood progenitor cells.

The AABB is developing Model Standards for Blood Banking that incorporates blood-banking terminology and are compatible with the universally accepted ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 9000 standards. These Model Standards contain both Core Standards, which are generic requirements that can be universally applied, and Regional Standards, which are specific requirements that are based on the sophistication of blood banking and transfusion medicine for a particular geographic region or county.

The AABB is hopeful that these Model Standards will be a template that can be used as the foundation for an assessment program in any region of the world.

The AABB Accreditation Program assesses the quality and operational systems in place within a facility. This independent assessment of a facility's operations helps the facility to prepare for other inspections and serves as a valuable tool to improve both compliance and operations. Accreditation is granted for collection, processing, testing, distribution, and administration of blood and blood components; hematopoietic progenitor cell activities; cord blood activities; preoperative activities; parentage testing activities; immunohematology reference laboratories and SBB schools.

A blood bank achieving AABB accreditation would therefore be regarded as having passed the standards that the AABB are seeking. In doing so, the blood bank shows that the bank is a safe place to store and test blood.

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