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The Blood Care Foundation - Background Notes

History of SRC and BCF working together.

The concept of a Blood Care Foundation (BCF) originally received a great deal of support from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence in the UK in the late 1980s. Since 1989, BCF has been working closely with the Swiss Red Cross (SRC).

As the general medical communities in France, Germany, Switzerland, the UK and Nigeria did not believe the proposed services of the BCF could work, as it was too difficult to move blood internationally, a Blood Bank was initially set up in the British High Commission in Lagos, in 1989, on a trial basis.

As soon as the expatriate and local medical communities in Nigeria saw the idea of a Blood Bank holding properly screened blood had become a reality, it received their overwhelming support, with several thousand expatriates and local nationals taking out membership.


During the past 19 years, the Trustees have developed a network (including its own blood banks) from where blood may be sourced, around the world, to enable properly screened blood to be provided to expatriates, local nationals and travellers in an emergency. At present, some 30 PLCs and several thousand individuals are covered with this service, which is financed through differing forms of membership fees.


BCF has its main office in Horsham, West Sussex, in the U.K. and a second one in Prangins, Vaud, Switzerland.

Blood sources:

BCF does not collect or process blood. Its blood is provided by:
The Swiss Red Cross in Bern, Switzerland.
Every 28 days (since 1989), the Swiss Red Cross ships blood from Bern to the BCF Blood Bank in Lagos, Nigeria.

The Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation, in the Netherlands.
The Dutch Foundation ships blood from Amsterdam to the BCF Blood Bank in Hong Kong.

Etablissement Français du Sang, Paris, France.
The French Blood Transfusion Service provides blood to BCF members in an emergency. The blood is collected from one of their blood banks in Paris and hand-carried, normally by a trauma-trained anaesthetist, to the treating doctor.

The Florida Blood Service
A Fully Accredited Member of the American Association of Blood Banks. Based in St. Petersburg, Florida, this Blood Bank uses its own medical staff to deliver blood to BCF members in Central and South America.

BCF Blood banks:

The Foundation maintains 3 blood banks. These are located in:
- Lagos, Nigeria, which is supplied by the Swiss Red Cross, in Switzerland.
- Hong Kong, which is supplied by the Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation, in the Netherlands
- Bonny Island, Rivers State, Nigeria, which is supplied by the Swiss Red Cross.

Q.A. Procedures:

With blood, there is no room for a ‘second class’ operation. The service is either performed to the highest standard possible, or not touched at all. For this reason, BCF has over 330 written Standard Operating Procedures which detail every action carried out by the Foundation. They ensure all procedures conform to the highest possible standards and are fully documented. They are an essential part of the Foundation’s Quality Assurance Programme and are regularly revised throughout the year.

The Foundation’s Quality Assurance Manager carries out an Internal Audit of all aspects of the Foundation’s activities each year, identifying areas in need of improvement and supervising their implementation.

When blood is shipped, its temperature is recorded every five minutes by a special device, to ensure it does not vary between 2°-10°C, from the moment it leaves the Blood Bank to the moment it is placed in the BCF Blood Bank, or is transfused.


Following two recent deaths in the UK from rabies contracted overseas, the Trustees decided to add the provision of human rabies immunoglobulin and rabies vaccine to BCF services. This has proved very popular with members, as symptomatic rabies in humans is invariably fatal.

Membership services.

At any one time, the BCF Travel Club is also protecting some 2000 individuals and 1500 Travellers.

Expatriate Medical Insurance companies, such as à la carte and Aetna in the UK and Travel Insurance companies such as Travel Insurance Consultants in South Africa, carry Blood Care Programme membership as an enhancement of their policies.

BCF membership includes 30 major corporations who protect their expatriate and local national staff, their family members and those travelling on company business, with BCF.