• Wed, January 10, 2018 4:20 PM | Steve Bolton

    National Blood Donor Month has been observed in January since 1970 with the goal of increasing blood and platelet donations during winter – one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood products to meet patient needs. Inclement winter weather – like what the U.S. is experiencing so far this year – often results in cancelled blood drives, and seasonal illnesses, like the flu, may cause some donors to become temporarily unable to donate.

    Share photos and stories of your blood center's celebrations with ADRP on social media by tagging #adrpgiveblood and #nationalblooddonormonth on Facebook and Instagram.

  • Mon, November 20, 2017 10:25 AM | Steve Bolton

    When the FDA introduced new rules for blood banks last September that every unit donated in the United States must now be tested for the Zika virus, this created a new challenge for U. S. blood centers. But it also created an opportunity for researchers that study infectious disease. By flagging blood donations infected with Zika, the nationwide testing helped the Blood Systems Research Institute to identify donors to enroll in research studies as potential test subjects. Results from one of those studies, which followed 50 Zika-infected blood donors for 24 weeks, were presented at the recent AABB conference in October.

    The Blood Systems Research Institute is the central laboratory for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which studies transfusion medicine in a study called REDS-III. Many organizations in the United States that collect and distribute blood take advantage of the samples at their disposal to conduct research studies. Most of these studies are focused on making sure the blood supply used to treat sick and injured people is safe and reliable, but the resulting data also gives scientists basic information about blood-born diseases like Zika, HIV, hepatitis, West Nile virus, and others.

    Like a lot of blood science, these testing programs got their start in the late 1980's when HIV and AIDS were on the rise. That is when the NHLBI started the first iteration of the REDS program, initially called the Retrovirus Epidemiology Donor Study. “It did a lot of work to better understand HIV and better characterize the risks of infection,” says Simone Glynn, chief of the Blood Epidemiology and Clinical Therapeutics Branch at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The first run of the program spanned 13 years, from 1989 to 2001. REDS-II ran from 2004 to 2012. The current program, REDS-III, started in 2011.

    In the 28 years since the start of REDS, blood donor research has helped tracked the epidemiology of various diseases in the general population by extrapolating out from the number of infected donors, says Glynn. It has helped scientists understand the way infections like HIV, hepatitis-C and West Nile Virus appear and progress in the body. Research through the program drew a connection between a virus called human T-lymphotropic virus type II and a progressive neurodegenerative disease in 1997, and tracked a 2014 Chikungunya virus outbreak in Puerto Rico.

    For more on the Recipient Epidemiology and Donor Evaluation Study-III (REDS-III), go here.

    (Partially reprinted from an article in Popular Science)

  • Mon, November 13, 2017 11:51 AM | Steve Bolton

    On October 18 &19 2017, the Austrian Red Cross in Vienna hosted an international workshop on Content Marketing. Participants were from 6 countries: Finland, United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Austria. And together they represented more than 10 blood services. These 2 days were all about sharing knowledge, ideas and best practices. Several blood services presented some of their work, like how they use social media or (online) donor magazines. And there were some non-blood bank speakers that talked about how to create a successful campaign and the use of loyalty programs. In between the presentations the participants did some group work, creating a content strategy together and a brainstorm on how to retain first time donors.

    This wasn’t the first time that some countries in Europe worked together, and it won’t be the last time! A new meeting, with a new topic, will be organized prior to the European Conference on Donor Health Management, September 2018 in Copenhagen (Denmark).

  • Thu, November 09, 2017 9:17 AM | Steve Bolton

    The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center (STBTC) has provided more than 200 units of blood to hospitals in South Texas treating Sunday’s shooting victims in Sutherland Springs.

    STBTC, a subsidiary of nonprofit BioBridge Global, provided blood to Connally Memorial Medical Center in Floresville, the San Antonio Military Medical Center trauma center and University Hospital, where victims were being treated. The center is continuing to provide blood to these hospitals and more than 70 hospitals across the region.

    “After a tragedy like this, people want to know what they can do to help. A concrete way to help is to donate blood to help replenish blood supplies so we’re ready to help the next patients who need blood, said Elizabeth Waltman, chief operating officer of the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center.

    It is critical that a constant supply of blood is available for hospitals at all times – especially before tragedies occur. It can take up to 24 hours to test and process blood before it’s ready for transfusion. STBTC has to be prepared for the next need, no matter where it occurs.

    Anyone with O-positive or O-negative blood is asked to donate, as supplies are low.

    STBTC also is asking for community members to donate platelets. Platelets are the blood components that help promote clotting, and they are constantly in demand. 

    People can donate at any of the seven South Texas Blood & Tissue Center donor rooms or at mobile blood drives happening around South Texas today.  They also can donate at SAMMC and at University Hospital. In addition, STBTC is arranging blood drives this week in the Floresville area and across South Texas.

    Members of the community can schedule a blood donation by going to or calling 210-731-5590. Information also is available on our Facebook page at Connect For Life.

    The need for blood donations will remain high especially in the coming months, so donors are asked to remember to give as often as possible. STBTC serves more than 70 hospitals and clinics, including University Hospital.

    All donors will need to have a photo ID. Anyone who is 16 years old and weighs at least 120 pounds (with parental consent form), or 17 years old and weighs at least 110 pounds and is in good general health may donate blood.

    (Press release from posted November 6, 2017

  • Wed, November 08, 2017 10:28 AM | Steve Bolton

    Amanda Farrell, ADRP board member and Director of Donor Recruitment at Unyts, beat out incumbent 2nd Ward Alderman Anita Mullane to gain a seat on the Lockport, New York city council.

    Farrell, a 35-year-old political novice, attributed her win to her door-to-door campaigning and voters' appetite for a fresh face on the council.

    "I really worked hard, I spent a lot of time meeting with voters, and I think our city and ward were really ready for a fresh voice," Farrell said.

    The race proved to be one of the most contentious council campaigns. On Tuesday night, Farrell acknowledged it was a tough race facing off against a three-year incumbent.

    "I think anytime you're running against someone in office, it's difficult," Farrell said. I really was just focused on meeting as many people as I could, introducing myself, being able to talk to people about my skillset."

    Farrell added that she is looking forward to getting acquainted with her new office.  "I'm really focused on the next three months to learn as much as I can, and just to gain a lot more perspective," she said.

    Farrell joined the ADRP board of directors in May, 2017 and serves as the Conference Committee co-chair.

    (Excerpt from

  • Tue, November 07, 2017 10:43 AM | Steve Bolton

    Annetta Morris, longtime Director of Commit for Life and Marketing at Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, ended her brave battle with illness on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. True to form, Annetta “fought until the last ounce of strength left her body,” her family shared. She was 49 years old.

    Throughout her two decades at The Blood Center, Annetta epitomized the program named in her most recent title, committing much of her life to helping others through her work at The Blood Center. Even before facing her own health crisis, she passionately promoted the importance of lifesaving blood donations.

    “Annetta’s passion for The Blood Center’s mission shined through in everything she did,” Brian G. Gannon, Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center’s President and CEO, said. “The patients we serve were always her top priority, and I am certain that her contributions have had a profound impact on many lives.”

    A graduate of the University of Texas, Annetta began her career with The Blood Center in 1995 in the Donor Recruitment department. She left the organization in 1999, accepting a position with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, but returned to The Blood Center in 2002, working in Donor Recruitment and MIS before becoming Commit for Life Program Manager in 2004. She was appointed Director of Commit for Life in 2007 and held that position until her passing.

    Annetta was a driving force behind some significant changes The Blood Center experienced in the 2000s, with her leadership of the Commit for Life program helping the organization grow its annual collections to the highest levels in its history. Commit for Life changed the way The Blood Center did business, and Annetta contributed greatly.

    She was a key figure in the creation and implementation of Commit for Life and development of The Blood Center’s brand identity. Annetta felt strongly about communicating the need for blood donations through the stories of donors and recipients. She developed friendships with many of the patients who participated in The Blood Center’s awareness campaigns, following their journeys throughout the years.

    The Blood Center’s lifesaving mission was Annetta’s guidepost, leading her actions throughout her career. Her passing leaves a tremendous void in the hearts of all who knew and loved her. Like the patients whose lives were touched by the work she did, her colleagues, staff and so many others in our community are better for having known her. 

  • Tue, October 31, 2017 9:02 AM | Steve Bolton

    Regarding the association of blood transfusion from female donors with and without a history of pregnancy with mortality among male and female transfusion recipients

    October 2017 

    • JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) has published a study by authors from the Netherlands that found increased mortality among patients transfused with blood associated with the gender and pregnancy history of the donor and the gender of the recipient. 
    • There was a 13 percent increase in death from all causes among males who received RBC transfusion from an ever-pregnant female donor compared to males receiving RBC units from male donors. This difference was slightly statistically significant. 
    • For males transfused from a never-pregnant female donor vs. male donors the risk of death was not higher. 
    • Rates in female recipients were identical regardless of donor gender or pregnancy status. 
    • The study design was retrospective and observational and studies with these design features are frequently found to be wrong when more rigorous studies are completed.1
    • No biologic basis for the findings was offered, but an immunologic mechanism was most prominently suspected. 
    • TRALI (transfusion-associated acute lung injury), that has been clearly associated with transfusion of blood from previously pregnant women and for which we have preventive measures in place, is not the explanation, since the effect appeared to operate months out from transfusion. 
    • In light of both contradictory and supportive previously published studies, the Dutch investigators called the work “very tentative” and for more work to “replicate these findings, determine their clinical significance, and identify the underlying mechanism.” 
    • Editorialists who critically reviewed the study agreed and stated as well that “(I)n light of the limitations of the study by Caram-Deelder et al, current criteria for blood donor selection should not change. However, additional investigation is needed.” 
    • The effect was statistically modest, but must be followed up with definitive research to understand if this effect is real or spurious. 
    • In the absence of a clearly plausible biological mechanism, transfusion remains one of the safest medical procedures in wide use, and patients should not be unduly concerned if their health care provider recommends an appropriate blood transfusion. 
    • Blood donor and recipient safety and maintaining a safe and available blood supply continues to be our highest priority.
    1 For example, beyond being retrospective, no causes of death were enumerated to allow any assessment of either the plausibility of the association or mechanisms. Statistical adjustment for multiple comparisons were not made. Multivariate analyses to control for potentially relevant confounders was not described. Missing data on pregnancy status was noted by the authors. The findings became less consistent as the cohorts were broadened to include recipients of mixed gender components (likely including sicker patients and a more “real world” analysis). The age dependence of the effect measured, with younger males more affected, is unexplained.


    Caram-Deelder C, Kreuger AL, Evers D et al. Association of blood transfusion from female donors with and without a history of pregnancy with mortality among male and female transfusion recipients. JAMA. 2017. 318:1471-78.

    Cable RG, Edgren G. Blood transfusions from previously pregnant women and mortality interpreting the evidence. JAMA. 2017. 318:1445-8.

  • Fri, September 29, 2017 11:30 AM | Steve Bolton

    As the nation watched, Hurricane Harvey ripped through Texas breaking one record after the other. Then came hurricanes Irma and Maria—and history repeated itself in Florida, Puerto Rico and beyond. All regions saw severe damage caused by these massive and incredibly destructive storms.

    Across the country, generous blood donors answered the call to give blood to help patients in the hurricane-ravaged areas and replenish the supply for those in their own communities. Blood Systems, along with other blood centers, stepped up to help Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center in Houston, OneBlood in Florida and Banco de Sangre de Servicios Mutuos in Puerto Rico by shipping the blood components they needed until each could begin collecting blood again. Blood Systems stands ready to ship additional blood to Puerto Rico if requested.


    In addition to sending blood, Blood Systems offered its employees, donors and blood drive coordinators the opportunity to help out with a financial contribution.


    Blood bankers are often kindred spirits, so it was a simple and heartfelt request for Dave Green, CEO of Blood Systems, to make to his own staff. In an email to them in late August, he wrote: “Blood Systems is setting up a way for you to make a charitable donation to directly help Gulf Coast blood center employees, people who share our commitment to saving lives. Many of them have been impacted by the hurricane and more than a dozen have lost their homes.”


    Employees, board members and even consultants responded to Dave’s request. As of late September, nearly $40,000 was collected to assist Gulf Coast staff in need and more contributions were still coming in.


    “I am humbled by the incredible outpouring of support from our employees to help alleviate the challenges faced by our colleagues at Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center who were personally impacted by Hurricane Harvey,” Dave says.


    But Blood Systems employees were not the only ones to lend a hand. The organization’s donors and blood drive coordinators were given a similar opportunity to help. Donors and coordinators earn points for donating and organizing drives. They can redeem those points for thank-you items in an online rewards store. In addition to boosting the blood supply during this time, many donors and coordinators designated their earned reward points to support United Way of Greater Houston. Because of their outpouring of support, Blood Systems will send United Way a check for more than $67,000.


    “Not only did our amazing donors and coordinators quickly respond to the need for blood and platelet donations,” says Rob Van Tuyle, president, Blood Systems blood services division, “but they further demonstrated their incredible willingness to help others by designating their well-earned reward points to assist the relief efforts in Houston.”


    Note: Blood Systems is setting up similar outreach in support of Hurricane Irma relief efforts in Florida.

  • Wed, September 27, 2017 10:23 AM | Steve Bolton

    This hurricane season, without a doubt, will go down in history as monumental. Harvey, Irma and Maria will be remembered as the three hurricanes that impacted millions of people. For the blood industry, these storms strained resources in unprecedented ways. OneBlood’s footprint stood in the middle of one of those historic hurrricanes. Irma was the largest hurricane on record in the United States. It impacted all of Florida and forced blood centers in the storm’s path to suspend collections for several days.

    But just prior to Irma hitting the Southeastern United States, OneBlood managed to help others affected by the devastating hurricane season. Over 300 units of blood were send to Texas following Hurricane Harvey. The center sent hundreds of units to Puerto Rico before and after it was devastated. 

    But then the test came for OneBlood as Irma shut down its operations for an unprecedented three days. “We were proactive before the storm arrived and made sure our hospital partners had additional blood products on-hand to be able to ride out the storm”, said Bud Scholl, OneBlood Chief Executive Officer.  “Not being able to collect for three days we knew we would be facing a blood shortage when the storm cleared so we put the wheels in motion early on with blood centers around the country who sent additional units to help augment our supply”, said Scholl.

    The blood community responded with incredible force to help ensure a ready blood supply in Florida.  As soon as the skies cleared blood started arriving. “I am absolutely incredibly grateful to the national blood banking community and the OneBlood team members that all put forth such an incredible effort,” said Scholl. “I really can’t say enough about the incredible response by blood centers around the country that without hesitation sent additional blood products to us.  It is moments like this that bring out the best in people, which renews all our faith in humanity,” said Scholl.

  • Mon, September 25, 2017 2:00 PM | Steve Bolton

    The inequities in blood safety and availability between rich and resource-poor countries represents a world transfusion crisis. Each year, hundreds of thousands of deaths occur that could be prevented if blood were on hand to enable transfusion. Women in childbirth and young children with anemia are disproportionately affected.

    As with most crises, there is no single causal factor. Many blood centers operating in low-income countries face multiple challenges in serving local patients, ranging from the lack of a coherent national policy framework to shortages of money and appropriately skilled staff. But visit any blood center or transfusion service in the United States and compare it to the equivalent in many African, Asian, and Latin American countries—particularly outside of major cities—and one aspect of inequality is immediately apparent: the basic equipment necessary to collect, test, and process blood safely and efficiently.

    Given international financial disparities, this might, of course, be expected. But this particular aspect of inequality is especially regrettable since U.S. blood banks routinely dispose of hundreds of millions of dollars-worth of equipment each year. Much of this discarded material is perfectly serviceable and is simply being displaced as part of routine upgrade programs created to acquire the latest and best technology. And what happens to the no longer-needed equipment? Some is recycled; more ends up in landfill. Sadly, very little finds its way to struggling overseas blood banks.

    Fortunately, there are relatively easy ways to re-home used equipment and surplus supplies. While barriers to exporting these still-valuable goods exist, resources are available to overcome such challenges. The old adage states that charity begins at home, but there is no reason why blood bankers (and other laboratory professionals) cannot extend that spirit to their workplaces.

    Overcoming barriers to re-homing

    The first obstacle is lack of awareness about existing inequalities. In transfusion care, too many blood bankers assume that transfusion medicine across the globe is experienced by practitioners in much the same, effective ways. Worse, in the course of regular business little thought or discussion is devoted to these matters. It is not surprising, therefore, that scant consideration is typically given to how to mitigate global inequities. A long term education effort—of which this article seeks to be a small part—is required to increase understanding of the gulf between rich nations and poor.

    Another barrier is the informational gap that impedes successful matching of gifts to recipients. The principle that there are those that have and those that need is easily established: identifying that blood center A has something that is required by blood center B (on another continent) is much harder. Some blood collectors have developed exclusive relationships with overseas collectors; for example, England’s NHS Blood and Transplant has a long-term support arrangement with the national blood transfusion service in Uganda. This can work well in many ways, such as skills transfer, but less so in relation to equipment when what the better-resourced partner has to give may not meet (in type or quantity) the immediate needs of the other center. Conversely, what the intended beneficiary requires may not be available from the donor institution. A better idea is an international equipment exchange network where detailed information profiling can match donor institutions with potential recipients. Such a tool exists in, a cloud-based portal that connects donors and recipients.

    Another set of challenges exists in researching and resolving the many technical variables in play when contemplating equipment donation. It is necessary to ensure that the equipment is a good fit across many parameters. This applies at a most basic level (voltage of electrical equipment, for example) but also pertains in relation to the availability of skills required to install, operate, repair, service, and maintain the donated equipment. Likewise, there needs to be assurance that sufficient resources are available to purchase consumables and meet any other costs of ownership. Some equipment—donation beds for instance—can be readily received by most blood services. Others, such as component collection systems or sophisticated testing technology, place demands on the receiving organization such that they can rarely be re-homed successfully without the involvement of the manufacturer, or at least co-operation from an engaged local distributor.

    The remaining barriers are experienced most directly by those who work at the front line of donation: time and money. Re-homing equipment is usually far removed from the core business objective (although, with imagination, it can successfully engage staff, local media, and other community stakeholders), and there is often little institutional slack to absorb additional costs and duties. But donation requires resources: freight charges need to be met and logistics need to be managed (with specialist knowledge). Even if potential donors have the necessary money and staff, they may have minimal experience in exporting and be easily daunted into inaction. Partnering with experienced non-profits that are committed to getting valuable equipment into the hands of new owners in developing countries, such as Global Blood Fund, Matter and Afya Foundation, can relieve many of the  logistical burdens and costs. 

    Ethical considerations

    To adequately gauge your decision to pursue re-homing opportunities, it is worth considering some ethical dimensions. Three arguments against donation are often levelled.

    The first of these is that the donation may undermine growth of indigenous capabilities. If, for instance, there is a local centrifuge manufacturer and donation of “pre-loved,” no-cost equipment of this type will impact its sales that foster self-sustainability, then the donation, however well-intentioned, would potentially be unethical.

    The second argument centers on sustainability: will a donation change operating procedures in a manner that can be maintained over the longer term, or will it be necessary (at the end of the useful life of the donated equipment) to revert to former practices? This is important, because the loss of something previously enjoyed is always more keenly felt than the absence of something never experienced, and the long-term progress of the resource-challenged blood bank is of paramount importance. Opinion is divided on this point, although many argue that in an uncertain future, where equipment is expected to provide at least several years of service, this concern should not be used as an excuse for inactivity.    

    Although it is true that older, less-sophisticated technology is sometimes more appropriate for resource-poor settings, a third ethical contention centers on the quality of equipment being donated. By shipping pre-used items, blood banks from prosperous nations risk being accused of pushing sub-standard—or at least less desirable—goods onto poorer neighbors. Most times equipment will have been operationally deployed up to the point of availability/donation and rarely goes from serviceable one day to unfit for purpose the next. However, care must be taken that donated equipment is, indeed, still serviceable and can be supported on location by the supplier or its agents. It is incumbent upon the donor to assess the quality of the gift and not to off-load equipment that offers only marginal benefit.

    Impact of re-homing successes

    Encouragingly, there are numerous success stories to build upon in global blood banking. Over the past few years millions of dollars worth of equipment has been re-homed. Dozens and dozens of organizations have collaborated to expand the reach and quality of transfusion care.

    Bloodmobiles have found a second lease of life in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where they add greater flexibility to blood drive deployments and allow access to previously inaccessible communities. Portable beds are providing more comfortable donations in Nigeria, Mexico, Cambodia, and Lesotho. A better experience is especially important to encourage new donors to return to give again. Blood mixers are helping make every donation count, by preventing needless losses due to clotting in the collection bag in places as far apart as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Peru.

    This equipment is not only providing huge benefit; it also is creating significant economic leverage. Bloodmobiles that might otherwise have been sold at auction, stripped, and used as recreational vehicles, and beds that could have been sold as scrap for salvage parts, would return only minimal funds to the disposing center. On the other hand, for a relatively small investment—often just five percent to 10 percent of the depreciated value—the equipment can be given to under-resourced blood centers that would otherwise be unable to afford it. Gratifyingly, such donations continue to provide their designed value, improving the lives of donors and patients.

    Call to action

    As blood bankers and laboratory scientists we are, of necessity, experts at multi-tasking. When it comes to the disposal of equipment that is being retired from service, a new task you should add to your protocols is determining its potential to be re-homed to a blood bank in need. As with so many of your duties, lives hang in the balance based on your care with this step. 


    Reprinted with permission from Medical Laboratory Observer, October 2017

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