The Blood Supply Act is intended to strengthen the quality, safety and availability of blood and blood products from unremunerated voluntary donors in the Netherlands. Responsibility for implementation and maintenance of this programme has been entrusted to Sanquin. Thanks to the generosity of almost 330,000 voluntary donors, it has been possible to achieve an adequate, safe and high quality supply of blood for the national requirements.
Sanquin's regional blood banks carry out a range of tasks, including recruiting donors and collecting the blood at the numerous donor centres around the country. After donation, the blood is tested and processed into red blood cell concentrates, blood platelets and plasma. These products are supplied directly to the various hospitals all over The Netherlands. The blood banks provide advice on use of these blood products and are involved in clinical research. Most of the plasma is not needed by hospitals and is sent directly to Plasma Products.
The Plasma Products division processes the plasma supplied by the blood banks into medicines for coagulation and immune disorders. These medicines are called plasma products. Sanquin is a major supplier of medicines for patients in the Netherlands. A variety of isolation techniques produces coagulation factors, protease inhibitors, immunoglobulins and albumin. Plasma Products works closely with sister organisations in other countries, such as the Department for Central Fractioning (CAF) in Belgium and the Finnish Red Cross.
Diagnostic Services provides diagnostic services for blood transfusion and immunology (the study of the body’s defence mechanism). It also conducts genetic research in a number of areas, including blood groups and paternity issues. Diagnostic Services can perform all blood-related laboratory tests for hospitals, blood banks, institutes, obstetrics clinics, insurance companies and pharmaceutical organisations. Diagnostic Services is primarily called upon when complex specialist research is needed. Hospitals with insufficient capacity to carry out their own testing enlist the aid of Diagnostic Services. Diagnostic Services provides over more than 600 different diagnostic tests. More than half a million samples are tested each year.
An essential part of Sanquin Research's mission is its fundamental, clinical and applied blood transfusion research in all its facets. One of the main objectives is the development and constant improvement of Sanquin's entire range of products and services. Transfusion medicine is a constantly evolving field of research. Sanquin therefore has an extensive research program in the field of cellular blood products, plasma products and diagnostics, a large part of which is carried out by the Research division. Sanquin carries out both strategic and applied research. A broad range of studies in immunology, cell biology, blood-borne infectious diseases, haematology and blood transfusion medicine is conducted every year. New fields of research include stem cells and cellular immunetherapy. These studies are conducted in close collaboration with academic centres such as the Amsterdam University Medical Centre and the Leiden University Medical Centre, as well as non academic research centres in the Netherlands and abroad.
Reagents are products used in hospital laboratories to detect various characteristics or abnormalities in blood samples. Division Reagents was one of the first producers of blood group reagents. Reagents develops a broad range of blood group and immune reagents in its own research facilities and diagnostic laboratories. The products are available all over the world.
Sanquin manufactures many different products: red blood cell and blood platelet concentrates are just two examples, not to mention the large number of medicines made from plasma, such as clotting factors for haemophilia patients. We also provide doctors, pharmacists and healthcare organisations with expert advice on how best to use our products. Sanquin also conducts diagnostic blood tests, as well as strategic and applied scientific research.
Sanquin collaborates with scientific associations and professional organisations in the TRIP ('Transfusion Reactions in Patients') Foundation, a nationwide system for the scientific reporting of blood safety in the Netherlands. In 2005 the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport gave approval for a surcharge on the price of blood products, with which the financing of TRIP was guaranteed.
Our staff members provide education and training to poly-technics and universities, medical specialist training, and schooling for blood transfusion physicians and specialists. Sanquin offers apprenticeships to university students and laboratory technicians. Specialist and post-graduate courses for medical professionals are also available.