Blood Transfusion Safety

Safe blood saves lives

Every year, there are more than 118.5 million blood donations worldwide. Transfusions of blood and blood products save millions of lives every year. In fact, one blood donation has the potential to save as many as three lives. What’s more, most blood transfusions go to at-risk populations:

  • In low-income countries, up to 54% of blood transfusion are given to children under 5 years of age1
  • In high-income countries, the most frequently transfused group is over 60 years of age

A reliable supply of safe blood begins with volunteer blood donors. Screening donated blood further reduces the risk of transfusion-transmissible infections due to pathogens such as the Zika virus, hepatitis B or C, HIV, syphilis, malaria, West Nile Virus, or cytomegalovirus.

Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO)2 recommends universal screening for HIV, hepatitis B & C, and syphilis, and regional screening for specific infections such as malaria.

Woman after donating blood


Roche's technologies support a safe global blood supply


Roche is dedicated to helping save patients’ lives by delivering state-of-the-art solutions to aid in the protection of the global blood supply from infectious diseases. High-sensitivity blood screening technologies help blood banks to ensure transfusion of safe blood by providing high-quality laboratory tests. Roche provides two blood screening technologies:

  • Serological testing using electrochemiluminescence (ECL) technology: Serological testing reduces the risk of transfusion-transmissible infections in blood and blood products by detecting antigens and antibodies to infectious pathogens. This ready-to-use technology makes it easy for laboratory professionals to report reliable results to healthcare providers, enabling them to detect life-threatening blood pathogens before blood transfusion. 
  • Molecular testing using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology: Since PCR was invented in the early 1980’s, Roche has been at the cutting edge of developing new detection technologies to simplify and automate molecular testing. PCR technology detects life-threatening pathogens at the earliest stages of infection by direct detection of viral RNA or DNA.  


keeping blood supply safe
Why a safe blood supply is important

Typically, a single blood donation equals approximately half a litre of blood. If the blood donation is safe for transfusion, it can go to support various indications, such as:

  • women with pregnancy and childbirth associated bleeding
  • patients with blood and bone marrow disorders
  • people with traumatic injuries in emergencies, disasters and accidents
  • patients undergoing advanced medical and surgical procedures.


  1. World Health Organization. Blood Safety and Availability. Retrieved March 2024 from: 
  2. World Health Organization. Screening Donated Blood for Transfusion Transmissible Infections. Recommendations. 2009. Retrieved March 2024 from: