The Blood Transfusion Service is an FDA-licensed, full-service blood bank that consists of the Blood Donor Center, the Outpatient Infusion Unit, the Apheresis Unit, the Transfusion Service, and the Histocompatibility (HLA) Laboratory.

Blood Transfusion Service

The Blood Transfusion Service is an FDA-licensed, full-service blood bank that consists of the Blood Donor Center, the Outpatient Infusion Unit, the Apheresis Unit, the Transfusion Service, and the Histocompatibility (HLA) Laboratory.

The Transfusion Service performs routine and specialized compatibility testing as well as the production of specialized components. In addition, the lab supports the transfusion needs of a number of specialty services, including cardiac and vascular surgery, bone marrow and other solid organ transplantation, the Level 3 burn and trauma services, and the neonatal intensive care unit. Approximately 70,000 blood components are transfused annually, in addition to clotting factor concentrates, albumin, and intravenous immunoglobulin. The Transfusion Service includes an AABB-accredited reference laboratory for the resolution of difficult serological problems.


The MGH Blood Donor Center collects whole blood for component preparation (approximately 13,000 donations per year) and platelet pheresis products (approximately 1,200 units per year) at the MGH main campus and on two mobile units.

A number of therapeutic procedures are available through the Infusion and Apheresis Units, including therapeutic phlebotomy (650 per year), therapeutic plasma and cytapheresis (250 per year), peripheral progenitor cell collection (200 per year), and outpatient transfusion of blood components and plasma derivatives (1500 visits per year).

The Histocompatibility Laboratory is ASHI certified and performs the HLA typing, antibody testing and chimerism/engraftment tests required for bone marrow and solid organ transplantation services at MGH, as well as testing required by the MGH Blood Transfusion Service and Blood Donor Center.

Physician consultation is available for therapeutic phlebotomy and apheresis, transfusion and infusion management, component therapy, use of specialized blood components in target populations, presurgical planning for reduce allogeneic blood usage, diagnosis and management of patients refractory to platelet transfusion, serologic problems, autoimmune hemolytic anemias, complications of transfusion, preoperative assessments and compatibility testing of transplant candidates, and diagnosis of rejection episodes.

Outpatient Services Division

The MGH Blood Transfusion Service (BTS) Outpatient Services Division provides a variety of services to outpatients, including therapeutic phlebotomy, infusions of plasma derivatives such as intravenous immunoglobulin, and transfusions of blood components. In addition, we provide apheresis services for both outpatients and inpatients. Patients are cared for by an experienced staff of five registered nurses and two licensed practical nurses. The practice is supported by two patient services coordinators. Physician coverage is provided by onsite house officers supervised by an attending physician. The unit is managed by Jane Ritzenthaler, RN HP (ASCP) and directed by Robert S. Makar, MD, PhD.

Our unit is conveniently located on the first floor of the Jackson Building, room 120 and provides patients with a safe, comfortable and open group setting. Our unit is open Monday through Friday, from 8:00am to 5:00pm. Our services are available by appointment only. Physicians wishing to schedule a patient can contact our office at 617-726-3622.

Therapeutic phlebotomy

Phlebotomy is offered to patients with hemochromatosis or polycythemia vera. These patients benefit from the reduction of iron levels or the removal of red blood cells, respectively, that results from repeated phlebotomy.

Infusions and Transfusions

In our dedicated infusion unit, patients may receive intravenous immunoglobulin, clotting factor concentrates, or intravenous iron. In addition, patients may be transfused with blood components such as red blood cells, platelets or fresh frozen plasma, which may be required to support them while they are receiving chemotherapy to treat a cancer or because they have an illness that prevents production of adequate numbers of these blood components. Experienced nursing staff monitor all treatments.


A variety of apheresis procedures are performed in our dedicated apheresis unit. We collaborate with the MGH Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) Service to collect hematopoeitic stem cells from patients and normal donors for autologous and allogeneic stem cell transplants respectively. We are the largest apheresis collection site in the North Eastern Region for the National Marrow Donor Program. We collaborate with the MGH research community to collect T cells from patients for a variety of research protocols.

We provide clinical consultation for therapeutic plasmapheresis to treat a variety of autoimmune and hematologic conditions including, but not limited to, Guillain-Barre syndrome, ANCA-positive vasculitides, anti-GBM disease, hyperviscosity syndrome, and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. We also provide extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP) to treat patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) as well as bone marrow transplant patients with severe chronic graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). Physicians interested in these services can contact our Blood Bank resident by calling 617-724-5700 and paging number 2-1829.