JPAC Joint United Kingdom (UK) Blood Transfusion and Tissue Transplantation Services Professional Advisory Committee

24.1: Introduction

The ISBT 128 Standard is an internationally defined coding system for the barcoding of information on blood components, progenitor cells and tissues. Designed by the International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT) Working Party on Automation and Data Processing, the responsibility for the worldwide management and distribution of the ISBT 128 Technical Specification and associated databases now resides with the International Council for Commonality in Blood Banking Automation Inc. (ICCBBA).

A specification for the use of the coding system for the description of tissue products has been agreed by ICCBBA (ICCBBA Product Code Database, available from the website

Some UK tissue bank facilities use Codabar product codes at present. The use of Codabar product codes for UK tissues will be phased out over time and the ISBT 128 product coding will be fully adopted in its place.

This chapter details the manner in which internationally agreed ISBT 128 tissue donation identification numbers, blood group codes and product description codes will be incorporated into tissue labelling systems in the UK where ISBT 128 is in use. The document cross-references the UK database of tissue product description label text which is maintained by the Joint UKBTS/HPA Professional Advisory Committee (JPAC) Standing Advisory Committee on Tissues and Cellular Therapy Products. The labelling of stem cell donations and products is outside the scope of this document.

The ICCBBA ISBT 128 Technical Specification is provided to companies and Blood Transfusion Services that have registered with ICCBBA, or may be downloaded directly from the ICCBBA website (

24.1.1: The ISBT 128 Technical Specification: summary

The ISBT 128 Technical Specification:

  • describes the standard layout for a blood group label
  • defines the data identifiers for barcodes used in the tissue bank environment
  • defines the data structures that carry information, i.e. how a particular barcode will be recognised by a reader, how many characters there are, and whether the characters are letters, numbers or both
  • includes tables that define how complex barcodes should be translated, such as ABO/Rh blood groups.