Frozen red cells

Sanquin Bank of Frozen Blood (SBFB)

The Sanquin Bank of Frozen Blood (SBFB) stocks and manages rare red cells.

One of the challenges in transfusion medicine is to provide compatible erythrocytes for patients with alloantibodies against high-frequency red cell antigens (so called public antigens).
Another category of patients for whom it is difficult to find compatible donors are those with complex combinations of alloantibodies.

If autologous blood is not available or not sufficient to cover the needs of the above patients, it may be necessary to use frozen red cells from the Sanquin Bank of Frozen Blood (SBFB).

Red Cell Freezing

For cryopreservation the low-glycerol method was used till 2006 and the frozen red cells were stored at –196°C in liquid nitrogen. Since 2006 the high-glycerol method is used, which permits storage in refrigerators at -80°C. Glycerol protects red cells from damage during freezing and thawing. The preservation time at -196°C is virtually indefinite, but at -80°C at least 30 years.

After thawing the units must be transfused within 24-48 hours, depending on the use of open or closed systems, to minimize the risk of bacterial contamination.

Thawing and reconstitution of frozen blood takes about 4-6 hours. If more than four units are required the processing will be about two hours longer.

In almost all cases shipping of the units abroad will be by plane. The time of transportation and the time for customs regulations need to be taken into consideration.

How to order red cells from the SBFB?

From outside The Netherlands units should preferably be ordered by telephone and must be confirmed by fax. Blood can be ordered at any time. Please call +31 20 512 3010 and/or use fax +31 20 512 3670. For queries email us.
Inside The Netherlands, please contact your transfusion physician.

See what the SBFB has in stock

Link to the Rare Donor Panel of the NHS in the UK

Voor niet-medische vragen bel:


020 - 512 3000