History of tissue banking

Milestones, developments and reference journals


Early 1950s

Large-scale tissue banking in the UK began as a collaboration between the Leeds General Infirmary and the Bacteriology Department of Leeds University.


The Leeds bank expanded and outgrew its facility so Yorkshire Regional Tissue Bank was established in Wakefield to deal with the extra demand.

Mid 1990s

The National Blood Service (NBS) established two tissue banks in the south of the country, in London and Cambridge. Around the same time, another large tissue bank was established in Wrexham. These were the four largest multi-tissue banks in the country.

Late 1990's

The four largest tissue banks joined forces to provide a single comprehensive service throughout the whole country, within the National Blood Service.


A brand new, state-of-the-art, tissue bank facility was opened in Speke near Liverpool; and the tissue processing work that had previously been carried out in the four separate banks was transferred to this "super centre". Co-incidentally, NBS also joined forces with UK Transplant in 2005 to form NHS Blood and Transplant. This organisation now supplies a comprehensive and integrated blood, organ and tissue service to the NHS.

Reference journals

Titles Authors Journal details Year
A single-stage method of freeze-drying arteries for grafting T H Flewett, K S Zinnemann, M W C Oldfield, H S Shucksmith, F Dexter Lancet: 888-890 1995
Studies in the transplantation of bone. VI. Further observations concerning the antigenicity of homologous cortical and cancellous bone R G Burwell, G Gowland F Dexter J. Bone and Joint Surg. 45B: 597 1963
Tensile strength of irradiated freeze-dried arterial grafts T Horne, A V Pollock, K S Zinnemann Brit. Med. J. 1: 830-831 1959
A bacteriological and histological study of the relative merits of ethylene oxide and b-propiolactone as tissue sterilising agents with special reference to arterial grafts T W Sutherland, G M Williamson, K Zinnemann, H S Shucksmith Brit. Med. J. 1: 734-736 1958
Freeze-dried bone-grafts C R Berkin, P M Yeoman, G M Williamson, K Zinnemann, F Dexter Lancet i: 730-732 1957

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