Blood Donation

Vital fluid: What We Know About Blood

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Special report from the Stanford Medicine Magazine

“Blood is a very special juice.”

Goethe didn’t know the half of it when he penned this line for Mephisto more than 200 years ago.

In those days people believed blood held mystical qualities and was a potent life force. No wonder Mephisto wants the contract for Faust’s soul signed in this “special juice.”

But what exactly does blood do?

Blood transports oxygen to all of our body’s cells, which use it as fuel. Blood sweeps away wastes. Blood conveys messages, in the form of hormones, from one organ to another. Blood hosts the immune system — carrying it where it’s needed.

There’s also blood’s dark side. It can turn against us, afflicting us with cancers of the blood cells, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia and many other diseases, and it can carry infection.

Because of blood’s many roles, a few drops can serve as a window on the state of our health, making it the go-to material for diagnostic tests.

Our view of blood has greatly altered in the last century, when transfusion was perfected. Earlier, bloodletting — draining and discarding a portion of blood — was a standard treatment. Today blood is a valuable treatment itself, with nearly 5 million people in the United States each year needing a blood transfusion.

Medical science continues to expand our understanding of what goes on in blood and how best to marshal its power.

For the latest thinking, please see the following articles, originally published in the Stanford Medicine Magazine:

• Blood Quest: The Battle to Protect Transfusions From HIV
• Blood, Sweat, and Fears: A Common Phobia’s Odd Pathophysiology
• Roll Up Your Sleeve: There’s Still No Substitute for Blood
• Against the Flow: What’s Behind the Decline in Blood Transfusions?
• In His Blood: A Doctor Driven by Hemophilia

Transfusion Medicine’s Portrayal on Television

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By Tim Donald, Contributing Writer, American Association of Blood Banks

Roxanne and Mark decide to donate blood. While they are sitting together in an open waiting room, a nurse asks Roxanne questions about her sexual history and number of partners — loud enough for all to hear. They are told their blood will be tested to see whether it is “clean” enough to be used. They spend a sitcom eternity waiting anxiously for the results to learn whether they have any sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs. In the end, someone from the clinic calls each partner to tell them that they do not have STDs. (Source: Whitney, Season 1, Episode 12, “Faking It”)

Pop quiz: What’s wrong with these scenes from the NBC situation comedy “Whitney?”

If you answered that donor interviews are normally conducted in private, you are correct. You also are correct if you answered that donors are normally notified only if they “do” have an STD, and that sometimes blood is discarded before it is tested, so donors who do not receive a call should not assume they are STD-free.

Welcome to the world of blood banking and transfusion medicine as portrayed on television. This is a world in which the truth may be embellished for comedic or dramatic effect. For example, when someone gives blood in a sitcom, he or she typically will faint from the experience. Or, if someone needs a blood transfusion, they inevitably have a rare blood type.

Understanding these distortions may help transfusion medicine professionals address donor and recipient misgivings or misinformed beliefs they encounter in the clinic. This article examines ways in which transfusion medicine is misrepresented on television.

Blood Donation Mishaps
Blood donor mishaps are frequently the basis for sitcom gags. Examples include the violation of privacy in “Whitney” mentioned above and an episode of “The Office” in which Michael passes out after donating blood (“The Office,” Season 5, Episode 18). However, the reality is different.

Regarding privacy, “Everything is confidential,” said Melanie L. Allen, marketing manager at Inova Blood Donor Services in Sterling, Va. “We do our best, based on Food and Drug Administration regulations and our own ethical standards, to keep information as private as possible. In our donor center, screening is done in private rooms. On blood drives, there are dividers between each of the screening areas,” Allen continued. “The FDA regulates that there be a certain space between areas.” In addition, Allen noted that most screening questions are no longer asked and answered aloud. While it would be conceivable to hear a conversation from the other side of a divider, it would take great effort, unless a potential donor is a very loud talker.

Information obtained in screenings is not covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – the procurement or banking of blood is specifically exempted from HIPAA – “because donors are voluntarily giving us this information,” Allen said. Nonetheless, as a general matter, “We don’t share information with anyone else,” she said.

Severe donor adverse events — such as loss of consciousness for a minute or more, major allergic reaction, injury, or nerve irritation — are rare, according to the 2009 National Blood Collection and Utilization Survey Report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The rate of such events per unit collected was 0.09 percent, and HHS has developed a donor hemovigilance system, called Donor HART, in collaboration with AABB and a software developer, to collect information about these types of adverse events that can be analyzed to identify potential improvements in the donor experience and to reduce the risk of reactions.

“There is always the perception, in the media and also in the public, that you feel weak after you donate blood, that we take so much blood that you don’t feel good and you’re going to pass out,” Allen said. “Of course that rarely happens.”

“Rare” Blood
AB-negative blood is the least common blood type in the ABO blood group system. To make a sweeping generalization, when TV writers decide to design a dramatic episode around the need for a blood transfusion, the preceding sentence is as far as their research goes. Oh, yes, they also may be aware that O negative is the universal blood type for red blood cell, or RBC, transfusion.

“They don’t get it totally wrong. They’ll say ‘two units of O-negative blood, stat!’ That makes sense,” said Cynthia Flickinger MT(ASCP)SBB, director, technical services, National Reference Laboratory for Blood Group Serology, American Red Cross Biomedical Services, Penn-Jersey Region, in Philadelphia.

Sometimes, however, in the hands of TV writers, “the least common blood type in the ABO blood group system” becomes “the rarest blood type in the world!” A number of dramatic series, including “Dexter” and “Monk,” have built episodes around the rarity of the AB-negative blood type.

Reality check: The AB blood types are found in about 4 percent of the Caucasian population — AB negative in about 1 percent. By contrast, the American Rare Donor Program, or ARDP — which tracks and organizes rare donor information in an effort to better meet the needs of patients with rare blood types — defines rare blood types as those that are present in less than 1 in 1,000 donors. For frequently transfused patients who have developed multiple antigens, matches may be even rarer, by orders of magnitude — 1 in 10,000 or 1 in 100,000, said Flickinger, who also is director of the ARDP.

“Chronically transfused patients can make up to 6, 8, 10 different antibodies, and every time one is added into the mix, it lessens the number of donors we can find to provide for them,” she said.

Although the ABO blood group system is the most important system for the purposes of blood transfusion, it is only one of more than 30 blood group systems, including the Rh, MNS, Kell and Kidd systems. The A and B antigens are two among hundreds of antigens that have been identified on the surface of RBCs.

So when told that a character in “Monk” declares that his “AB negative with a D antigen” blood is “the rarest blood type in the world,” (“Monk,” Season 2, Episode 16, “Mr. Monk Goes to Jail”) Flickinger noticed the inaccuracy.

As stated earlier, AB blood types are found in about 4 percent of the Caucasian population. “Among the ABO system, this is rather high incidence, actually,” Flickinger said. “But AB individuals can receive all blood types, A and B and O, so they are not hard to find blood for. D negative is maybe 15 percent of the population. However, that AB negative patient can receive any blood that’s D negative, so that is still quite a bit, certainly greater than 1 in 1,000. They would not have to go through the ARDP.”

Ban on MSM Blood
Currently, the FDA’s policy regarding blood donation by men who have sex with men, or MSM, is that men who have had sex with other men at any time since 1977 are deferred as blood donors. This deferral policy is based on risk: According to the FDA, MSM are, as a group, at increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion.

This deferral policy was used as the basis for a story line in the TV drama “Harry’s Law” (Season 2, Episode 21, “The Whole Truth”). In the episode, a gay man is barred from donating his O-negative blood directly to his brother who has been injured in an accident. The plot turns on the efforts of the lawyers to obtain permission for this recently HIV- tested MSM to donate blood.

The episode raised a number of red flags for Susan Galel, MD, director of clinical operations at Stanford Blood Center and an associate professor at Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif. She noted, first, that O-negative individuals could be unduly frightened by the scenario of an O-negative patient dying for lack of blood. In trauma situations, generally it is safe to use O-positive blood, and this would have been given to the patient.

Second, the show perpetuates the misperception that direct donations are instantaneously available but community donations take a long time to process, Galel said. The implication is that the directed donation would be released untested.

Third, it was not necessary for the characters to spend hours in court to obtain permission for an emergency exception. Federal law allows medically justified exceptions at the discretion of the physician and medical director. In a situation in which fully tested community blood was not available, medical directors could have released incompletely tested blood already donated by individuals who met all eligibility criteria.

Finally, Galel said, the episode downplayed the potential risk, with the characters arguing that the brother’s blood was “safe” because he was in a committed relationship; no mention was made of the partner’s HIV status.

The story “belittled blood donor eligibility policies,” she said, noting that public health services and the FDA are working to identify donor screening criteria that could allow low-risk gay men to donate.

Additionally, AABB strongly supports the use of rational, scientifically-based deferral periods that are applied fairly and consistently among blood donors who engage in similar risk activities. In 2006, it presented a joint statement with America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross to the FDA, Blood Products Advisory Committee recommending that the committee modify its current “life- time deferral” for men who have had sex with other men since 1977 to a “12-month deferral.” That would make it comparable with criteria for other groups at increased risk for sexual transmission of transfusion-transmitted infections.

When Blood Is Not an Option
A sensitive subject that is occasionally dealt with in TV dramas is treatment for those who do not accept blood transfusions, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Or, as Aryeh Shander, MD, puts it, those “for whom blood is not an option.”

He explained that this includes not only Jehovah’s Witnesses but also alloimmune patients, those concerned about bloodborne diseases, and those for whom blood may not be available at a given time or place. Shander, chief of the Department of Anaesthesiology, Critical Care Medicine, Pain Management and Hyperbaric Medicine at Engle- wood Hospital and Medical Center in Englewood, N.J., is well known for his innovations in the development of bloodless procedures to assist Witnesses and others who cannot or will not be transfused.

Jehovah’s Witnesses can accept medical and surgical treatment, but they believe that certain Bible passages forbid blood transfusion, according to, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Many will allow the use of heart-lung, dialysis, or similar equipment if extracorporeal circulation is uninterrupted.

“You have to make sure that the blood is in contact with the circulation,” Shander said. “The minute you store the blood it is no longer a viable option for them.”

TV plots occasionally center on Jehovah’s Witnesses needing transfusions. Inanepisodeof “Scrubs” (Season 5, Episode 9, “My Half-Acre”), for example, a patient who is a Jehovah’s Witness needs a blood transfusion for a simple procedure, but a more complex procedure to help her without transfusion is eventually found.

There are misconceptions about the beliefs and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the public as well as the medical profession, Shander acknowledged, “and those can be easily dealt with by education.”

Some have called Jehovah’s Witnesses “heretics in the cathedral of medicine,” Shander said, because they do not accept blood. In fact, they have actually taught us an enormous amount in learning how to treat them.”

While TV writers may not be “heretics in the cathedrals of medicine,” they are at times guilty of stretching, misinterpreting or misrepresenting reality for the sake of a laugh or a tear. Being aware of these distortions can help clinicians and others in the field of transfusion medicine bring donors and patients from the world of TV fiction back to reality.

New Red Blood Cell Loss Limit for Platelet Donors


A message from Dr. Susan Galel, Director of Clinical Operations, Stanford Blood Center

If you are one of our dedicated platelet pheresis donors, you know that we keep careful records of how much you donate— and how often—in the familiar Annual Donor Records tucked in your chart. It is our responsibility to ensure that your donation frequency is safe for you. Before each of your donations, we tally all of your visits, red blood cell losses and plasma losses for the 12 months prior to that donation, to be sure that you will not exceed any of the safety limits.

Recently, the FDA standardized its method of calculating the maximum allowable red cell donation limit. By October 1, 2012, we will be lowering the allowable red blood cell loss from 1,620 to 1,430 mL in accordance with FDA’s new standardized formula. Plasma limits have not changed.

With each platelet donation, you lose a small amount of red blood cells in the plastic tubing of the pheresis circuit and in the tubes used for testing the donation. The red cell loss with each platelet donation (46 mL) is about one-quarter of the amount of red cells in a whole blood donation. If you donate platelets at the maximum frequency of 24 times per year, your annual red cell loss is quite high, but still within the new limit. Thus, we believe that most of our platelet donors will not be affected by the new FDA red cell limit calculation. If, however, you donate whole blood in addition to making platelet donations, your total red cell loss might exceed the new limit.

As you come in for your platelet donations over the next few months, we will be checking your red cell loss against the new limit. If you are close to or above the new limit, we will help you reschedule and adjust your visits to get you to the new limit by October. Within the prescribed limits, we will tailor collections with you to maximize the benefit to patients and the research community on the basis of your particular characteristics. Most importantly, we want to ensure your continued good health, comply with safety regulations, and keep you donating forever. If you have any questions about how this change might affect you, please ask your nurse the next time you donate.

If you are one of our “frequent flyers,” please know how much we respect and appreciate your commitment. Your efforts mean so much to patients in need, and their families. Thank you for being one of our invaluable donors!

Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood


By Deanna Bolio, Public Relations Associate, Stanford Blood Center

Stanford Blood Center Bloodmobiles travel thousands of miles each year to collect donations at mobile blood drives. They stop at businesses and schools, churches and hospitals. But you might be surprised to know that on rare occasions you can even catch these buses on quiet residential streets, parked next to yard sale signs and driveway basketball hoops. These community blood drives, often associated with a particular patient or blood recipient, offer a unique opportunity for a community to come together for a good cause.

“Working on community drives is truly one of the most rewarding aspects of my job,” said Tim Gilmore, Stanford Blood Center Account Manager. “I really enjoy working with the families and patients who benefit from blood donations.”

One of the first neighborhood blood drives began in 2009. Bob and Cristal Hernandez wanted to come up with a way to honor their daughter Ava, who passed away at four years old due to neuroblastoma, a highly aggressive form of cancer that typically affects infants and children. Cristal reached out to Stanford Blood Center and the inaugural “Ava’s Blood Drive” took place in their quiet San Jose neighborhood shortly after. Nearly 400 units have been collected in association with Ava’s Blood Drive, now in its fourth year.

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The following year, Dianna and Tim Murphy began hosting the “Pay it Forward” blood drive at their home in San Ramon as a way to honor their son Kevin’s second chance at life. At 12, Kevin’s health declined rapidly over the course of a month, which doctors determined was the result of cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart muscle. Kevin would need a life-saving heart transplant, which he received in February 2009. He is now a healthy teenager.

The first “Pay it Forward” blood drive was held one day prior to the first anniversary of Kevin’s surgery. The response to the blood drive was so great, the family decided to make it an annual event.

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“Our community is so amazing and so supportive,” Dianna said. “I had a feeling that the blood drive would be successful, but I had no idea of the magnitude. The next year we had two buses.”

Donors at neighborhood blood drives include not only friends and family, but also coworkers, neighbors and even passersby. One married couple donating at a “Pay it Forward” drive were not familiar with the Murphy family, but were moved to donate by their own personal experiences with blood recipients.

“Seeing a community pull together to support a great cause is always a very humbling experience,” Gilmore said.

The First to 600

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By Dayna Myers, Marketing Communications Manager, Stanford Blood Center

After more than two decades’ worth of visits, blood donor David “Mitch” Mitchell hit a unique milestone on August 20 when he became the first person to make 600 donations at Stanford Blood Center.

Mitchell, 75, regularly donates through a specialized two-hour process that allows the center to collect specific blood components, such as platelets. This donation type allows him to donate as many as 24 times a year.

Mitchell first began donating blood at age 17 when he was in the Air Force, and it quickly became a habit. “It only takes a couple of hours, and once you build it into your life, it just happens,” said the Mountain View resident. As a retired pilot, he travels often but makes sure to stay clear of malaria-risk areas, which would defer him from giving blood for one year.

He recalled attending a survivors’ dinner about 10 years ago where one blood recipient got up and thanked the blood donors in attendance by saying, “I’m here, you’re here and that’s good.” That’s his bottom line, Mitchell said. Donating is a small inconvenience, but it means the world to someone in need.

“Someone with a loved one who needs blood would offer every vein in their body,” he said. “Well, there are a lot of people out there who need blood and don’t have anyone to help, so I do what I can.”

Cancer and leukemia patients often depend upon platelet transfusions. For example, a leukemia patient might have a dangerously low platelet count that could be caused by the disease itself or by its treatment, which can damage bone marrow and result in hemorrhage. Platelet transfusions can help keep these patients alive while allowing enough time for their therapy to work.

Although Mitchell started as a whole-blood donor, Stanford quickly identified him as an ideal platelet donor. He has been donating regularly at the blood center ever since. “The nurses and medical assistants here are just a delight,” he said.

With donors Eric Buhr, Linda Johnson and Dick Tagg (see below), Mitchell is among an elite group who have given blood more than 500 times to the Stanford Blood Center.

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Unusual Blood Donation Campaigns

By Julie Ruel, Social Media Manager, Stanford Blood Center

Voluntary blood donors are needed in countries throughout the world to help maintain a safe and sufficient blood supply. Finding these donors is often a challenge for blood centers. So, many advocates have created unusual awareness campaigns to promote the need. Here are some of the most inventive efforts we’ve seen.

• UK: Painted Blood Donors
The excitement of the London Olympics brings with it the risk of critical blood shortages for the UK this summer. More donors attending events or avoiding traffic means fewer donors in chairs. So back in April, as a preemptive tactic, blood donation supporters stepped out into the streets, nearly unclothed, painted with a heart on their chest and veins reaching to the tips of their fingers and toes in an effort to draw attention to the need for blood.

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We’ll guess they were successful at least in drawing the public’s attention.

• Brazil: My Blood is Red and Black
The Brazilian soccer club Vitoria normally wears a red-and-black-striped jersey. To raise awareness for the need for blood donations, the team removed their signature red stripes and say they will gradually add them back as people sign up to give blood. Here’s a visual:

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At a recent game, the players carried a banner onto the field that read, “Vitoria has always given its blood for you. It’s time for you to give yours.”

• Mumbai: Street Plays
Launched this year on World Blood Donor Day (June 14), the Mumbai District Aids Control Society ran a month-long “Street Plays” campaign in specific locations. With the constant swarm of people at Mumbai’s train stations, they were the chosen venue for the blood donation-themed events. Performers entertained and crowds of people gathered around to observe. The Plays are said to appeal to the masses as the visual of the performances sticks in the mind. In addition, it’s an effective way of communicating to those who may not be able to read the literature explaining the need for blood. Anybody else thinking of a BART-based blood donation flash mob?

• Russia: Torrent Your Blood Campaign
In an effort to connect with their target audience, the Blood Transfusion Service in Russia created a film about blood donation that could only be downloaded using torrent files. They felt the acts of donating blood and downloading torrents had an interesting relationship. “A user who downloads a file receives it in segments from other members on the torrent site. This is precisely the same principle as in blood donation.”
Though seen as “slightly dodgy and illegal”, it attracted over 1,000 viewers who pledged to give blood.

• Kuala Lumpur: 800-Pint Target
During the month of Ramadan each year, several Lion’s Club districts in Kuala Lumpur organize the Give Blood, Save Lives campaign to aid The National Blood Bank. Some of the incentives offered for free are taxi rides to the donation site, eye exams, hampers, rice cookers, and bicycles. With a goal of collecting 800 pints of blood in one day, this year they drew 854 pints. In seven hours. Sounds exhausting, but well worth the results!

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Click here to read about how a few nations celebrated World Blood Donor Day this past June.

The Gift


A Poem by Gil Gonzales, Stanford Blood Center Donor

The greatest of gifts that costs nothing to give
A gift of hope that offers a family a sense of relief
Just a little of your time, so that another may live
A minor inconvenience that spares others major grief
Offering the gift of life from one’s own veins
For even the poorest of us can give this priceless gift
When all seems lost a gift of a future, where hope reigns
Where those emotionally down, are given a spiritual lift
One’s donation of a little blood, is to another a gift of life
The precious fluid of one, can be another’s only chance
Offering a glimmer of hope where once despair was rife
Allowing someone a chance, for their healing to advance
Blood is like a river of life, that flows within us one and all
And while most of us have the ability to give, still so few do
Donors are often sought, sadly few care to answer the call
The apathy of so many is a fact of life, unfortunately sad but true
I am proud to be a donor, it’s not too much to endure
Two hours once a month is a gift I willingly share
For any donation is a gift of hope, but not a magic cure
It means so much to families to know that others care
The feeling I get, knowing my gift meant so much to a family
A warmth derived from having helped save the life of another
Even though I’ll never know who, that’s fine with me
Hopefully a family will be blessed with a loved one’s recovery
To return a loved one to a family, is a feeling beyond compare
Be it a child or an adult, no greater feeling can one derive
For when we give blood, it is life itself that we share
What nobler cause can there be, but to help keep another alive

The veins in our bodies, like the veins in a mine
Can be harvested to save lives one drop at a time

Center Drives

By Julie Ruel, Social Media Manager, Stanford Blood Center

Donating blood together with friends or family members can be a rewarding experience of supporting patients in need while also building a sense of community with each other. A few years ago, we introduced our Center drive program to accommodate a growing number of inquiries about small, organized group donations - a great option when there may not be enough people to make a mobile blood drive feasible.

The Donor Party, one of our inaugural Center drives, is cleverly named and full of personality. The mix of friends, current and previous co-workers, and dodgeball league teammates started out as a few UCLA donor buddies who, post-graduation, moved north and drafted new donors. Group leader, Savannah Whitney (pictured below, holding sign), has been steadily growing the number of members and we’ve watched the number of donations triple since its inception. “Everyone involved has been extremely enthusiastic about donating, which has been a huge incentive to continue coordinating the drives. If I don't have one scheduled every eight weeks, I definitely have more than a few friendly reminders from the group to get something set up!”

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Whether you bring in your team of cyclists, members from your book club, or are hosting a group donation in honor of a patient, it’s important for us to recognize the effort put into organizing Center drives. We have a special setup for groups of at least three including a welcome sign, a nominal gift to each donor, plus the option of touring the Blood Center and research labs.

If you’re interested in setting up a Center drive, please contact Kevin O'Neill at

A Global Celebration of Blood Donors

By Dayna Myers, Marketing Communications Manager, Stanford Blood Center

Around the world today, nations will celebrate blood donors in honor of World Blood Donor Day. In Iran, a trio of cyclists will wind up a 17-day challenge ride from the Iranian Blood Transfusion Organization in Tehran to the Ankara Blood Bank. Nigeria’s Health Minister marked the occasion by donating blood in Abuja. And in Korea, this year’s host country, the celebration began in February, when over 3,000 people donned red and broke the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest human blood drop formation.

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This year marks the 8th World Blood Donor Day, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), under the theme “Every Blood Donor is a Hero”—a statement that rings true here at Stanford Blood Center, where we see the impact our donors make on countless lives.

In honor of World Blood Donor Day, we’d like to offer our heartfelt thanks to all of our extraordinarily compassionate and committed donors. On this day, we would also like to offer special thanks to our donors who recently donated points from our online loyalty store to Safe Blood Africa, an organization that is dedicated to improving blood donation safety in Nigeria.

In fact, WHO hopes that World Blood Donor Day will help highlight the need for all nations to develop systems built on voluntary blood donors, particularly in developing countries, where donors are very limited and governments struggle with the expense and technical challenges of maintaining a safe blood supply.

Voice of America shared the photo below of children receiving blood transfusions in Pakistan, and noted that in poorer countries, blood supplies are often limited. Rather than relying on a pool of volunteer blood donors, recognized as the safest system, donors often give blood only when relatives or friends need a transfusion.

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And yet, many countries are making great progress toward the goal of increasing voluntary donations. For example, according to WHO, Sri Lanka’s National Blood Transfusion Service has transformed from a single room in a hospital to state-of-the art facilities at a national center in Colombo and five other centers, along with 70 hospital-based blood banks. Sri Lanka ended paid donation in 1979, and now collects 87 percent of its supply from voluntary unpaid blood donors. Regular blood donors receive membership cards that recognize their commitment at four levels – red, silver, gold and platinum.

You can read more about blood donation success stories in the Cook Islands, Haiti, Iran, and Vietnam as well, on the World Health Organization’s website.

Thank you, blood donors everywhere!

Preventing a Summer Blood Shortage

By Harpreet Sandhu, Administrator, Stanford Blood Center

Jim Early is an extraordinarily dedicated blood donor. One of our “frequent flyers,” he has logged over 300 donations with Stanford Blood Center. He even keeps the Blood Center in mind when he plans his summer travel, because travel to malarial risk zones (such as India, parts of Mexico, and parts of Costa Rica) can lead to a one-year deferral from donating blood.

Unfortunately, the Blood Center loses many valuable donors in the summer, and not just because of travel deferrals. College students and professors leave town, and high schools are out of session. During the school year, high school mobile drives play a significant role in keeping inventory up. In fact, approximately 20 percent of our blood products come from students. Of those, an estimated 90-95 percent are high school students participating in our mobile drives.

In past summers, these dwindling donations—coming precisely when automobile accidents and elective surgeries are pushing up demand—led to critical shortages.

This summer, we are particularly concerned about shortages. In recent months, we have noticed an uptick in demand by community hospitals for Rh-negative blood. The hospitals we serve need a lot of blood products, particularly for preemies, cancer treatments and complicated transplants. A liver transplant, for example, sometimes requires 40 or more units of blood.

We sincerely appreciate the dedication of all our donors. Some donate every time they are eligible—about every two months for whole blood donors, and as frequently as every two weeks for platelet donors. The reality remains, however, that just a small portion of our community keeps our community hospitals supplied. An estimated 39 percent of the population nationwide is eligible to donate, but only about five percent in the Bay Area give regularly. Therefore, we urge anyone able to donate to consider helping out this summer. Please note that while recently the need for Rh-negative blood has been particularly strong, we need donors of all blood types.

Please call (650) 723-7831 or visit our website to schedule an appointment or request information. Be sure to check out the different summer promotions and events we’re offering by clicking here. Thank you and give blood for life!

Apheresis Granulocytes

By Dr. Chris Gonzalez, Assistant Medical Director, Stanford Blood Center

Apheresis granulocytes are a specialized blood product comprised largely of white blood cells. This product is used in patients with very low white cell counts that have life threatening infections that have not responded to antibiotic therapy. In some patients this is truly their last hope for survival.

Because of the close working relationship between Stanford Blood Center (SBC) and the hospitals we serve, SBC is able to supply this life saving product in a timely manner that generally is not possible from other blood centers.

Our granulocyte donations usually come from our pool of previously qualified platelet donors. These donors have been tested multiple times and are known to be consistently negative for all infectious disease markers.

These donors are also great candidates for granulocyte donations because from the donor’s perspective the collection is very similar to a platelet collection. The granulocyte collection does require steroid premedication the day before collection but the medication is easily tolerated.

Stanford Blood Center extends a big heart felt "thank you" to all our past, current and future granulocyte donors for providing desperately ill patients a last chance at life.

Life is Precious

By Tim Gilmore, Blood Drive Account Manager, Stanford Blood Center

Last year, my cousin’s husband, Darren, became extremely ill. He was rushed to a hospital in Central California but after days of declining health, doctors decided that he needed to be taken by medevac to Stanford Hospital. Upon his arrival, he was met by world-class physicians who rushed to diagnose his symptoms. After being stabilized at Stanford, his health started to improve and we learned that he had leukemia. He started a treatment plan immediately and began receiving numerous blood products.

When I visited Darren in the hospital, as a concerned family member and not a Stanford Blood Center employee, I was overwhelmed with feelings of sadness and helplessness. But seeing a blood bag that might have come from one of the blood drives I helped coordinate, I was immediately overtaken with a sense of pride. I feel honored to be a part of Stanford Blood Center and its mission.

Unfortunately, Darren lost his battle with cancer a week after arriving at Stanford, only two weeks after being hospitalized. I share this story as a reminder of how precious and unpredictable life is. Donors like you help keep blood on the shelves and ready to go, whether its use is planned or unexpected. Please take pride in your role as a blood donor. You’re truly changing lives!

What happens in the lab?


By Tim Gilmore, Blood Drive Account Manager, Stanford Blood Center

During each blood donation, six small tubes of blood are collected (to be used later for testing), along with the bag of blood used for transfusion. When the blood donors finish their good deed, they rest in the canteen with cookies and juice. But their precious gift of blood is already busy, working toward saving lives! Here, we take you on a tour through our lab.

• Once the blood has been drawn, the bag and tubes are properly sealed and stored in coolers. Shuttle drivers pick up the blood and deliver it to the Stanford Blood Center laboratory.

• At the lab, everything is scanned into our system. At this point, tubes and bags are separated for testing/processing. Tubes must be tested and approved before the corresponding unit of blood can be released for use.

At Stanford Blood Center, we test for:

• ABO\Rh Type
• Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
• Hepatitis B
• Hepatitis C
• Syphilis
• T-Cruzi
• West Nile Virus
• Cholesterol

• Processing comes next. The first step is to separate the unit of whole blood into different components. Doing this allows our hospitals to give patients exactly what they need—and nothing extra. Blood components are separated through the use of a centrifuge machine.

• Once out of the centrifuge machine, the unit will have broken down into the four basic components of blood - red cells, plasma, platelets and white cells. White cells can be harmful if transfused into a patient, so are filtered out or used for research.

• Red blood cells are refrigerated and can be kept for a maximum of 42 days. Plasma is frozen and can be stored for up to a year if not immediately needed. Platelets have the shortest shelf life; they last only about three days after the testing is complete.

• Next, our staff reviews hospitals’ orders and sends the blood components where they need to go.

• Finally, hospital employees transfuse the blood products into people who need blood to survive or thrive.

If you’re interested in a group tour of our lab—maybe with a class at school, a group of friends, or a few co-workers—just let us know and we’ll arrange it. Contact: Kevin O’Neill (, 650-725-2540).

Heartfelt Haiku

By Donors & Friends of SBC

Last year for Valentine's Day, we asked you to write haiku poems for those closest to your heart. The response was better than anticipated so we asked for your poems again this year, this time to be written about donating blood and the patients who are fortunate to receive it. In addition to sharing them below, we've turned your three-line works of “heart” into cards, to be delivered to patients at the Palo Alto VA Hospital later this week.

Thank you to everyone who participated this year! Here are the submissions, in no particular order:

We are all human
My blood I give with kindness
Happy thoughts of unseen smiles
- Shannon Weaver

Life force rushes forth
Benefiting those in need
Then, replenishes
- Kimberly Cope

Hope you are infused
With love, light, laughter, and hope
As well as this blood
- Anne Wiley

When you hear stories
Of folks who have needed blood
You want to donate
- Josette Walian

Between life and death
our home and the hospital
We smile and we cry ❤

I went for treatment
And I was prescribed haiku
Now I feel so fine
- Jeff Bravo

Pinch! Relax, wait, dream
Life river flows from my arm
Blind love gift binds us
- Mark Papamarcos

Happy to donate BLOOD
Makes me feel good about GIVING
Patients longer LIFE
- Jerry Childers

A small prick in arm
is all it takes to really
make a difference

Just a little bit
means a great deal to someone
It's only my blood
- Leslie C. Gordon

Her face in my mind
The chemo killing her cells
The blood restoring
- Donna Andresen Araiza

A few minutes in a chair
My gift to you
Good karma for me (and POG)
- Gary Davis

Liquid red lasso
A quoit knotted by the heart
Rescues a stranger
- George Krompacky

Love is in the air
New blood is in the veins
There is ebb and flow - all is well!
- Karen Kneedler

Life's rhythm and blues
Sharing blood ensures new life
Pumping love and soul
- Antonio Nuñez

My blood is now yours
Dear friend, we are connected
Sharing cherished life

One gives, one receives
New blood, energy and life
Let's all seize the day!
- America Reyes

Platelets and plasma
It's all golden
Small gift for POG
- Dominic Wang

Saturday mornings
Drive to the Center
Platelets to save lives
- Dennis Feick

Are You My Type?

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By Julie Ruel, Social Media Manager, Stanford Blood Center

Do you consider blood type an important criterion for compatibility with the potential special someone in your life? According to Jenny Nakao Hones, a Japanese American who studies Asian cultures, superstitions, and customs, “One of the most popular methods in Japan that is gaining popularity around Asia is blood type analysis. Similar to other horoscope systems, blood type… has charts that indicate compatibility.”

Here’s the breakdown:

Type A is most compatible with A and AB.
Type B is most compatible with B and AB.
Type AB is most compatible with AB, B, A, and O.
Type O is most compatible with O and AB.

How does this compare for you? It’s interesting to consider, although growing up in Japan, Jenny remembers this as more of “a good icebreaker at a party and a fun way to get to know everyone in a short time.” It was less about using it to choose a spouse.

If you don’t know your type, consider donating blood with your loved one in the spirit of Valentine’s Day and just for fun, see if your blood types are in sync with each other.

Please visit Jenny Nakao Hones’ blog to check out some additional, interesting blood type analysis charts.

Nine Lives: A Blood Donor’s Odyssey Donating Around the South Bay


By John Williams, Marketing Manager, Stanford Blood Center

Lisa Sanfilippo has donated blood in nine separate locations in the past five years. Such is her passion for continuing to help save lives by finding a Stanford Blood Center (SBC) blood drive or Center location wherever she happens to be when eligible to donate.

Lisa donated her first unit at Saratoga High School in 2007 and was instantly hooked. She says, “I got my donor card in the mail and found out what my blood group is – it was cool.” Coming from a medical family – her grandfather was a pediatrician, grandmother a nurse, and father an endodontist – Lisa is passionate about giving blood as a way of helping others. After her first donation in high school, she was determined to continue donating, which she did, first at our Mountain View Center, then at the following mobile blood drives throughout the South Bay:

Emanuel Lutheran Church - Saratoga

Courtside Club – Los Gatos

Coldwell banker – Los Gatos

Intero Real Estate – Los Gatos

Hewlett Packard – Cupertino

Prospect High School – Saratoga

Congregation Shir Hadash - Los Gatos

Lisa found these blood drive locations by searching on our website. As we conduct many blood drives from South San Francisco to Gilroy, and some in the East Bay, it was easy to find a convenient location when she needed it. Most community drives are open drives, meaning that the general public can make an appointment or simply drop-in. Lisa experienced a wide range of donation sites, including gyms and cafeterias. Blood drives are also held at schools, malls, churches, or other community spaces. She says that her favorite place is the bloodmobile because of the high tech interior, with the screens and machines.

Lisa is now a student in the University of San Francisco Nursing Program. She says that she’s had the opportunity to discuss the nursing profession with SBC nurses: “They have all been so friendly and nice, and I’ve asked them how they got their start in nursing.” Despite her busy schedule, Lisa intends to continue donating. She recently received her Four Seasons T-shirt and she pledges to wear it every time she donates, wherever that may be, which makes her a fine example of the spirit of giving.

There’s Nothing Scarier Than a Blood Shortage

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By Julie Ruel, Social Media Manager, Stanford Blood Center

Each day, the recruitment team at Stanford Blood Center (SBC) works hard to help ensure we have blood products available to those in need. “We do this by connecting with donors and inviting them to return. It sounds simple enough, but the reality is that this mission takes time, strategy, and creativity,” explains Karen Paganelli, recruitment manager at SBC. The hospitals’ needs fluctuate from day to day and we must constantly keep on top of our inventory to make sure the right type is available at the right time for the right patient.

One constant challenge we face is the need for Rh-negative blood types (those that lack the Rhesus D antigen: O-, A-, B-, AB-). Rh-negative (or Rh-) red blood cells are important because of their compatibility with both Rh+ and Rh- blood types (see compatibility chart below for specifics). Only a small percentage of the population (around 15%) is part of this group. However, from week to week, we need approximately 20-22% of our visiting donors to be Rh-. Because these percentages are unbalanced, our pool of eligible donors in this blood group can be quickly depleted.

Compatibility Chart.png

O-negative red blood cells specifically

We reach out to our O-negative donors often and here’s why. These folks have the universal blood type. In simple terms - their blood can safely be transfused to anyone, regardless of that person’s blood type. Imagine an emergency situation, say, an automobile accident. People need blood and they need it right away. Without time to test their blood type, doctors must reach for the bag of O-negative, the only safe choice in this type of situation.

In addition, because only about 6 out of 100 people are part of this group, it’s that much more difficult to keep a sufficient inventory.

Rh+ blood types

The fact is, all blood types are needed. We couldn’t produce an article about the importance of blood donations without mentioning Rh+ blood types. We + folks are part of a much larger population which makes us very important as well. Think of it this way - the more common your type, the more people there are that need your type!

The need for blood will never go away. There will always be surgeries to perform, emergencies that happen, and people with conditions who rely on blood products for day-to-day survival. It’s critical that we make sure blood is stocked in our hospitals’ refrigerators and ready to go at any given time. They rely on us and we rely on you!

Did you know? A Few Facts about Blood Usage


By Julie Ruel, Social Media Manager, Stanford Blood Center

About every two seconds somebody in the U.S. needs blood. An estimated 38% of the population is eligible to give blood at any given time but less than 10% actually do. So blood centers must work hard to keep a constant supply on their shelves and ready to go. And as you know, we all rely on the support of generous volunteer donors. At Stanford Blood Center (SBC) specifically, we provide blood only to local hospitals and depend on the busy Bay Area folks (of which just 3% are active blood donors) to keep our inventory healthy. “At SBC, we are acutely aware of how critical our donors are. We work hard to make sure they feel appreciated by providing excellent customer service and recognizing each donor’s contribution,” acknowledges Jamie Boseman, collections manager at SBC.

In total, we ship about 1,000 units of red blood cells (RBCs) and 250 units of platelets out the door each week. Incidentally, 80% of the blood products we collect are sent to Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital (LPCH), operations that are globally recognized for the specialized and complicated programs available to their patients. They are our biggest customers, both in terms of volume and complexity of products required for these programs.

Here are some examples of how blood products provided by our donors are put to use:

• Liver transplant patients require an average of:
40 units of RBCs
6 units of platelets

• Some cancer patients will use:
1-2 units of RBCs per week
2 units of platelets per week

• Heart surgery patients can use up to:
10 units of RBCs
1-2 units of platelets

• Motor vehicle accident victims use an average of:
50 units of RBCs

Since you began reading this, about 200 people in the U.S. have needed blood. If you’re a part of the elite 3% in this area that make these life-saving transfusions possible, take an opportunity to do something nice for yourself. You deserve it!

Father & Daughter Bonded by Blood Donation



By Gary Davis, Loyal Stanford Blood Center Donor

My name is Gary Davis and I would like to share my experiences donating blood with my daughter Katie. A little history first.

I had my hip replaced at Stanford Hospital in October 2008. A few months later I got a call from Stanford Blood Center (SBC) asking me if I could donate. I'd actually been interested in donating for years but never had a direct request to get me started. SBC happened to have a mobile truck due in my area the following week so I committed to visiting during my lunch hour. This was my first donation and afterwards, the technician told me my blood type was O- and that I tested negative to the cytomegalovirus (CMV). I'd never heard of CMV and asked a few questions. This was the start of a learning experience for me.

I learned that in an emergency it can take a half hour to type someone’s blood and since O- is the universal blood type, it would be used until a patients blood type could be identified.

I found out about the need for platelets at Stanford Hospital for leukemia patients and pre-mature babies. I became a regular platelet and blood donor and felt good about being able to give something to the community during financially difficult times. All it cost me was a little time and gas. Well worth it considering the constant need for blood supplies.

Last December my 16-year-old daughter came to me asking if she could get her nose pierced. My first instinct was to say no. I'm not partial to piercings and tattoos. But I thought about it a bit. She already had multiple ear piercings and, being 16, I could only stop her for a short while until she'd be able to do it anyway.

Then I had an idea. If she wanted to be poked with a needle, why not have her do it for a good cause? I told her that if she went with me and qualified to give blood, that if she donated twice I would let her get her nose pierced. I researched a bit and found that since her last ear piercing had been last summer she had to be deferred from donating for one year. She agreed pretty easily to my conditions. She was aware of my donations and was curious herself.

On Saturday, June 17, we went in for her first donation. Once there we found out she needed to have a photo ID with her, so we turned around and drove the 20 minutes home, and then back again. We were determined! Her first donation was a bit difficult, it took the technician almost two minutes to find a vein, and Katie was great. She didn't squirm or complain at all.

Afterward we decided to treat ourselves. I had at least one SBC AMC Theatre pass with me, so we went and got a slice of pizza, then to a movie, hung out the rest of the day and had a very nice time together!

We found out she is O- and CMV- but unfortunately her veins are too small for apheresis. Her blood is still very much needed, though! In fact, I got a call a couple of weeks ago from SBC letting me know there were shortages and I let them know that we were planning on donating together again that Saturday.

On 8/27 we went in and Katie did her second donation. The technician found a vein on the first poke with Katie so it was an easier experience for her, even though the first time didn't bother her. This time we went and did a bit of clothes shopping and got lunch together and spent most of the afternoon together. We've agreed that our donation days have become special to us after just two times. We make it a day of sharing time together, a rarity between my work and her school, sports, and friends. We are both looking forward to making it a regular outing. It's our special time together catching up and enjoying each other's company, and just as important, doing something for the community.

Katie will be getting her nose pierced soon, but now she has to wait until field hockey is over. She's been very patient!

Thank you to all of the staff at SBC and the donors. Know that you're all doing something very important!

Giving Blood Works


By Amanda Baker, Communications Intern, Stanford Blood Center

On Tuesday, Stanford Blood Center (SBC) hosted an encore of the Giving Blood Works promotion at our Hillview Center. This event brought together donors, recruiters, and career counselors for an evening including a networking techniques seminar, a chance to meet with recruiters from local companies, and an opportunity to sign up for half-hour resume critiques with career experts Lisa Stotlar and Ellen Shulman from CareerGenerations.

Ellen and Lisa.jpg

Giving Blood Works was Stanford Blood Center’s way of giving back to donors who have donated blood and helped save the lives of patients in local hospitals. “The intent of this event was for SBC to be relevant to its donor base, given the continued high unemployment in the area,” explained Marketing Manager John Williams. “We were looking for a win-win situation, and we feel that we achieved this last night by connecting blood donors with potential employers, providing the latest tools for jobseekers, and most importantly, providing the blood products for local patients.”


Many attendees have been donors with Stanford Blood Center for many years, and others, like Lana Foladare, were inspired to become regular blood donors after getting acquainted with SBC at the event. “I’m going to come back,” Lana said, pledging to become a loyal donor, “I’m going to give blood over and over by making it a priority.”

Another attendee commented, “This event was everything that I had hoped for,” and many others voiced their gratification and positive feedback. Thank you to the speakers, recruiters, educators, and donors who attended, and thank you for your commitment to helping save lives!


Magnificent Maddie

Maddie & Mom.jpg

By Julie Ruel, Social Media Manager, Stanford Blood Center

Pulmonary hypertension, overriding aorta, and pulmonary atresia are a few of the health obstacles in little Maddie’s life. She has undergone 11 procedures, including three open-heart surgeries, to correct her cardiovascular defects and has received the lifesaving gift of blood with each of her surgeries.

A few years ago, Maddie’s parents were told that she would be on oxygen for the rest of her life due to her heart defect. Feeling hopeless, they brought her to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital to see a pioneering pediatric cardiologist. She underwent additional procedures, including a third open-heart surgery, and has lived without her oxygen tank ever since!

As a thank-you to the anonymous blood donors that helped forever change her life, the talented young Maddie designed greeting cards for a holiday give-away in 2009. If you donated blood with us around that time, you may recognize her artwork:

Maddie Cards.jpg

After a successful year in kindergarten, Maddie enjoyed spending time this summer with family and some Nickelodeon friends.

Maddie &SBSP.jpg

From her mom, Wanda: Maddie made tremendous progress this past year! She is going on to first grade and is so excited. We started the summer with a bang by staying the weekend at the Nickelodeon Hotel in Florida. She was beside herself wanting to cram everything in one day! By the end of the night poor thing was so tired, however would not fall asleep thinking she was going to "miss something”. That's my girl.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Here is a happy email update from Maddie’s mom: Summer 2012

Maddie & Mom2.jpg

Miss Madeline has been a very busy little girl this summer with swimming, ballet, and vacationing!

She started swimming lessons but within 2 lessons she developed an ear infection. We rescheduled once she finished her antibiotics and the day after her 3rd lesson another ruptured eardrum. So needless to say, we had to put swimming lessons on hold until we see an ENT in September.

I enrolled her in a few ballet classes this month and she LOVED it!!! Keeps asking me if she is going back to ballet when school starts up.

I took her on a few mini vacations. Clearwater for 2 weeks and Daytona Beach for a few days. This young lady LOVES the beach. Just give her a shovel, a pail, and sand and she is at home!

Maddie at beach.jpg

Medically she is in the best health. Eating more and more everyday (eggs, pancakes, sausage, soup, salads, blueberries, chicken, raviolis, pasta, mashed potatoes, fish, hotdogs, etc.). She does struggle a little with chewing and tires easily, but for the most part I mash everything up and cut it up into tiny…tiny…tiny pieces and she is able to eat it. She has gotten to the point where she doesn't want her Pediasure and wants food instead!!!

From a cardiac perspective…it has been 3 years since her complete repair and she continues to do well!!!! I know that we will have to go back to California for a heart catheter in the next 2-3 years (for a follow-up), but for now all is good!

In-home nursing will be discontinued next week. Who would have thought that this would have ever been possible/an option. It goes to show how far this once medically fragile little girl has come. She is SO independent and doesn't want help. She will tell you, "Leave me alone....I can do it....I am 8 years old!!!” I Love to hear those words.

The Early History of Blood Transfusions

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By Julie Ruel, Social Media Manager, Stanford Blood Center

Medicine and murder were two words I did not expect to see together in the title of an NPR talk on the history of blood transfusions. Holly Tucker, a professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, was going about her usual business as she researched information for a class lecture on the discovery of blood circulation by an English physician in the 1620s. What she uncovered, purely by accident, led to her book about the history of blood transfusions, "Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution”.

The first blood transfusions on record took place in France during the 17th century. Controversy unfolded when Jean-Baptiste Denis, a French physician who was not well respected in his profession, was desperate to make a name for himself. In light of the recent revolutionary discovery of blood circulation, the British felt there was more to be experimented with. They wondered, “What would happen if we transfused animal blood into humans?” After all, animals were seen as being more pure than humans. They didn’t cause trouble. They were peaceful as they stood around grazing in the fields. The British were close to performing the first experiment when Denis jumped in and stole their idea, along with all the credit for it. They were none-too-pleased with the egotistical physician.

He certainly wasn’t impressing his own people, either. Many of the noble French were traditional Catholics, unwilling to accept the idea of animal-to-human blood transfusions.

Despite the opposition, the physician was determined to draw attention to himself and carry out the controversial procedure. A young boy in town suffering from fevers was a good candidate for experiment #1. To treat the fevers, it seemed logical to use blood from the cool, calm sheep. Denis performed the procedure and lo and behold, the boy survived! (It’s unclear whether the boy’s fevers were actually cured. But based on what we know of medicine today, that would have been purely coincidental.)

Experiment #2, transfusing sheep’s blood into a man simply for experimental purposes, was also a success (meaning, the patient survived).

The subject of experiment #3 was a mental patient who often wandered the streets of Paris yelling at folks at random. Blood from the peaceful cow would surely help this man. Sadly, it didn’t. After the transfusion, the man died. Held accountable for the death, Denis was charged with murder. The ordeal resulted in the ban of human blood transfusions in France unless approved by the Paris Faculty of Medicine. Denis was ultimately cleared of the charges, but soon after ceased to practice medicine.

In closing, here’s a look at some early beliefs and practices around blood that are hard to imagine by today’s standards:

• Before discovering that blood circulates, it was believed that it burned up in the heart, as one of the four humours.

• The French believed blood transfusions could cause a change in species.

• Goose quills were used to puncture the veins during early transfusions.

• Mental illness was thought to be the result of overheated blood causing vapors that affected the brain.

Needless to say, we’ve made leaps and bounds in transfusion medicine since then!

Free Career Workshop: Giving Blood Works

By John Williams, Marketing Manager, Stanford Blood Center

In 2009, during the height of the recession, Stanford Blood Center ran a promotion in which blood donors who donated during a two-week period were invited back to a career networking workshop, resume clinic, and job fair. The event, called “Giving Blood Works,” was a hit with job-seekers and a win-win for the unemployed and the recipients of the life-saving blood products. And let’s not overlook the benefit to the employers. After all, we like to think that someone who is willing to donate blood to help save a life must be a good job candidate!

Unemployment continues to plague the Silicon Valley, so we have resurrected this program and will be offering a free workshop to those who donate and sign up at a Center location between September 1 and September 13. This time around, we have two networking experts from Career Generations, as well recruiters from VMWare, TIBCO, PAMF, Option 1,, and more. In addition, as some people will chose to retrain for a new career, we will have Foothill College on hand to discuss their career programs. The workshop will take place on Tuesday, September 13 at our Hillview Center.

Career counselor Lisa Stotlar believes that you must create your serendipity by being open to possibilities. Perhaps the act of giving blood to save a life might do just that. What better way to improve your morale, do a good act, and possibly find a job.

To make an appointment to donate blood and sign up for this event, please visit our website.

Tips and Tricks: Logging on to Your Donor Account

By Jennifer Sellen-Reczkowski, Marketing Communications Specialist, Stanford Blood Center

Click here to view this information in an online tutorial.

You’ve just donated blood and you’re wondering if that new all-bacon diet you started has affected your cholesterol level. As a Stanford Blood Center donor, you have access to our online tools, which make it easy to keep your wellness in check and stay on target with donation goals. Follow these steps to get started!

1. Visit our website. Navigate to and click on the blue “log in” button at the top right of the screen.

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2. Enter your donor ID number. This can be found on your donor ID card.

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If you don’t have your donor ID number, send an email to or call us at 650-736-7786. We’ll ask you to confirm your date of birth so we can be sure to provide you with the correct ID number. We hope allow for custom usernames in the near future. Please stay tuned for updates.

3. Enter your password.
Your default password is your birth date, entered as shown on the website, with slashes (example 01/01/1911).
If you would like to personalize your password, after you log in to your account, click the My Profile button, scroll to the password field and enter a new one.

4. Browse your account. Once logged in, you will be able to:

• view your blood type
• make an appointment
• check cholesterol test results and see vital statistics
• view previous donations
• manage existing appointments
• manage contact information, including address changes
• request an ID card be mailed to you
• shop in the loyalty store

We hope you’ll take advantage of these tools and find them rewarding. Of course the ultimate reward is the reminder that you’re saving lives whenever you donate!

Donating Blood is Both High and Low Tech


By John Williams, Marketing Manager, Stanford Blood Center

It’s heartwarming when, in this time of technology-based connectivity, you see a family doing things together. In this case, Mary Sullivan and her sons Tom, Dan, Greg and Steve donated blood for the community as a family. Ironically, it was a technology-based promotion that drove this wonderful group into Stanford Blood Center that day.

During a recent campaign, we encouraged donors to check in to one of our three Center locations on Foursquare or other location-based social networks, allowing them to share their whereabouts with their online community of friends. The Sullivan clan caught word of the promotion and donated blood together to earn the limited edition t-shirt, emblazoned with a graphic that replicates the “Captcha” box seen on many websites.

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Creating promotions and programs that are relevant to our current and potential donors is paramount. For some folks, a phone call will always be the preferred manner of contact. For others, email works best. However, our recent expanded use of social media is proving to resonate with the high tech populace of Silicon Valley. To see an entire family respond to one of our new tech-savvy promotions tells us that we’re on the right track. Thank you Mary, Tom, Dan, Greg and Steve for participating in this new approach to such a fundamental activity – giving blood!

Just Another day at the Office


By Brooke Wilson, Communications Manager, Stanford Blood Center

You’re minding your business, going about your day, even doing something good for your health by popping into the gym for a workout—then suddenly a seizure sets in and you’re on the ground convulsing, foaming at the mouth, and unable to communicate. Not only has your day taken a dramatic turn—but your life may be in jeopardy. What happens next?

If you’re near a Stanford Blood Center blood drive, you’re in luck.

“We heard someone say that a man next door had fainted while working out,” said Robert Manio, R.N. Then, he and Charge Nurse Cat Layson, R.N., decided to investigate. Even though the person wasn’t a blood donor, they hoped they could help; Cat and Robert rushed to the nearby gym to assess the situation.

“The man was having a seizure when we arrived,” remembered Cat. “And we weren’t able to do mouth-to-mouth at that point.” They located the tools they needed (mouthpiece, defibrillator) and asked someone to call 911.

Then, the seizure stopped. But so did everything else—including his breathing and his heart. That’s when Cat and Robert used a defibrillator to deliver a controlled electric shock to the man’s heart. Then, a few seconds of CPR brought back his breathing and pulse.

“I’ve used defibrillators before, when I worked in a nursing home facility,” said Cat. “But that part was very stressful,” she said in reference to the time when the man wasn’t breathing. “I think I stopped breathing too, and once he finally took a breath, I did too.”

Cat and Robert then watched and maintained his vitals until the paramedics arrived with an ambulance to take the still-unconscious patient to a nearby emergency facility. “I was glad she [Cat] was there,” said Robert. “We work well together. But seeing this guy having a cardiac emergency really brought back memories for me; my father had a heart attack at the end of last year, and he passed away on January 1st.”

With humility and nobility, both Cat and Robert consider that day just like any other day of work at Stanford Blood Center. They seem shy about being called a “hero.” “I feel like this is expected of me,” explained Robert. “It’s part of my job.”

Whole Blood & Platelets: What’s the Difference?

By Julie Ruel, Social Media Manager, Stanford Blood Center

At Stanford Blood Center we collect several different types of blood products from our volunteer donors. All products have different functions pre- and post-donation. In other words, before and after they leave your body, they each serve different purposes. For the scope of this article, I’ll focus on red blood cells (RBCs) collected during a whole blood donation and platelets collected during an ABC donation. These are the two most common products we draw, accounting for about 99% of our total donations in a year.

During a whole blood donation, a unit of RBCs is collected. These cells are packed full of hemoglobin and have an important job during their short life inside us (about 120 days). They work diligently around the clock to carry oxygen through arteries to our organs and tissues. Then, via the veins, they return, de-oxygenated, to the heart and lungs.

After we draw the unit, it’s sent to our lab for testing, then shipped off to the local hospitals we serve. RBCs are used, for example, for accident victims and those undergoing surgery and are required for about 70% of all transfusions.

It takes about eight weeks for these iron-rich cells to replenish themselves, which is why donors are required to wait 56 days between donations. Most don’t feel any side effects from the donation, though it does take about 24 hours for the fluid loss to be replaced. Because of this, we ask that donors refrain from strenuous exercise during that period.

Platelets have a different, and still very important function. Because of them, when we bleed, our blood clots. When we draw platelets from donors, they are sent through the same gamut of tests as RBCs, then shipped to the hospitals to use for patients who may not have enough of them to control their bleeding. Patients undergoing treatment for cancer are the primary users of platelets.

Because such a small, insignificant number of RBCs (that, as you remember, carry oxygen to our organs) are lost during a platelet donation, donors feel little, if any, fatigue afterwards. Platelets regenerate quickly and can be donated every 72 hours, up to 24 times in a year.

We welcome all who meet the requirements for donating whole blood to make an appointment at a Center location or blood drive. For example, donors must:

• weigh 110 pounds or more
• be at least 17 years of age (16 with parental consent)
• be feeling well with no symptoms of colds, flu or infection

Platelet donation eligibility is the same as whole blood with a few additional requirements. We screen each donor for the antibody to the cytomegalovirus and typically only draw platelets from those who test negative. In addition, at least one prior whole blood donation must be made at SBC in order to determine eligibility. For more specifics, please visit our website.

Survival Story


By Michele Hyndman, Public Relations Manager, Stanford Blood Center

I met Karen in the fall of 2006 through a new mom’s group at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View where both of our daughters were born. I was immediately drawn to her sense of humor, honesty and authenticity. We shared the joy, frustration and anxiety of new parenthood as we watched our girls grow from newborns to active toddlers. Then we both discovered that we’d be expecting sons to join our families in 2009. In fact Karen, and her daughter Rebecca, were some of the first people to meet my son, Mason, when they brought us dinner that February. Karen’s belly was big that night and we talked about life with two children and everything she still had left to do to prepare for her second child. She still had two months until she was due.

I will never forget how stunned I was when I got an email from Karen on March 5, 2009 to announce her son‘s arrival. It started “Quinn Frederick Bossow was born on Tuesday morning. Unfortunately, he is in extremely critical condition at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.” I immediately visited the blog she had created to keep family and friends updated on his condition.

In a routine check up, Karen commented that the baby had not been moving as much as before. An ultrasound showed that he was smaller than he should be at 36 weeks and there was a mass in her uterus. The safest course of action was to induce labor. Quinn was born with a massive cancerous tumor on his leg, which was what they had seen in the ultrasound.

Karen wrote, “A team of neonatologists was waiting for him. He was whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where they worked to prevent him from bleeding to death. They told us he would need surgery right away and prepared to transfer him from El Camino Hospital to Stanford. Right now, they have controlled the bleeding in his leg. They can’t remove any of the tissue until he is stronger and there is a good chance they will have to amputate much of the leg because the tissue is so fused with his own that they can’t separate it without him bleeding to death.”

In that first post, she ended “Also, consider donating blood to your nearest blood bank. Our little boy sure is going through a lot of it, so it makes me appreciate the importance of donating blood.”

My heart ached for Karen and her husband, Garth. What they were going through was unimaginable. On March 13, Quinn’s left leg was amputated just above the knee. In addition, Quinn had several abnormal electroencephalograms (EEG), a test that measures and records the electrical activity of your brain. Doctors were uncertain if he had brain trauma.

Quinn’s recovery is nothing short of miraculous. He was tenacious. After the amputation, Quinn grew stronger. He ate and slept well. On March 27, 2009, Karen and Garth were able to bring Quinn home. Since then, he continued to exceed every expectation. Quinn shows no sign of cancer now but doctors continue to monitor him closely. He learned to roll over and crawl on his own quickly. Quinn is now learning to walk with a prosthetic leg using a push toy. Karen says he has no idea he has any limitations. He is an extremely happy, joyful little boy with fiery red hair. He is a force of nature.

A heartfelt microdocumentary about Quinn and his family:

Congenital CMV: A Family's Journey


By Julie Ruel, Social Media Manager, Stanford Blood Center

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is not an unfamiliar term in the blood banking world. A member of the herpes family, it is one of the many tests we perform on each unit of donated blood. For healthy individuals, having the virus, or what we refer to as being CMV positive, isn’t harmful. And if healthy, unless you’ve specifically been tested for CMV, you most likely don’t know whether you have the antibody to it or not. However, for infants or those with impaired immune systems, it can be deadly. Because of this, Stanford Blood Center routinely tests for it and was in fact, the first blood center in the world to provide CMV negative blood to hospitals for immunocompromised transfusion recipients.

About 50 percent of us will have contracted the virus by the time we reach adult age. What I’ll be sharing here, though, is the story of a family whose twin girls developed the virus congenitally, leaving them severely disabled.

Janelle Greenlee and her husband, Eddy, found out seven weeks into her second pregnancy that they were having twins. Although thrilled, they wondered how in the world they would be able to handle a toddler plus twin infants! These ultrasound results classified her pregnancy as high-risk. But what they found out weeks later seemed to be a serious cause for concern. Abnormalities of the brain were found on one of the twins and it was recommended that they terminate the pregnancy. Opting to continue on, Janelle was soon after put on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy.

Rachel and Riley were born on August 8, 2003, crying and breathing on their own. Nonetheless, they were taken to the NICU where some observations and tests were done. Janelle recalls the devastating information they were given about Rachel. “Her MRI showed severe brain damage and a virus called CMV was suspected as the cause. We were told by the neonatologist that there was a 90 percent chance that Rachel would be severely mentally compromised or die. We were destroyed and came to learn that we knew nothing about this new word that was about to rule our life.” Rachel was diagnosed with congenital CMV, which, unknown to Janelle, she herself had contracted early in her pregnancy. The effects of this virus on the little girl include microcephaly (small head and brain), cerebral palsy, deafness, impaired vision, and seizure disorder. They were devastated to find out that Riley also tested positive for CMV. Her condition is less severe but, like Rachel, she also suffers from deafness and cerebral palsy.


Above, Eddy and his two girls enjoying some time together.

Congenital CMV is a condition that affects 1 in 150 babies yet tests for it are not routinely done during pregnancy. It can be transferred to an unborn child only if the mother is infected during pregnancy and it is more likely to cause defects if infection happens during the early term. Some simple precautions to take if pregnant include washing hands often, avoiding sharing food and utensils with babies and children, and avoiding contact with saliva when kissing babies and children on the face.

Eddy can lightly joke about having a PhD on the subject that just years ago he had never heard of. And Janelle has since started a non-profit organization, Stop CMV, to raise awareness of the virus. Together, they have raised two special girls (in addition to their two sons) who will turn eight next month, have many, many friends, and are quite popular in their community! Perhaps it was the pact they made shortly after the girls were born that has given them the strength they needed to persevere. “Our family decided that our main concern was to give the twins everything that we could for however long we may have them and to love them for whatever and whoever they are, not what they aren’t.”

Please click here to read more about Riley and Rachel’s story.

The Ball is in Your Court


By John Williams, Marketing Manager, Stanford Blood Center

It’s Wimbledon time and the games are in full swing. It takes many years of dedication to become a professional tennis player and the current top seeds at Wimbledon have devoted their lives to the sport. Donating blood also takes dedication, and we have many loyal donors who have made saving lives their lifetime routine. Come to think of it, tennis and blood donation have a lot more in common, too.

Perhaps you drive to the Blood Center for a nice mini break from work. You’re set to beat or at least match last year’s donation record by upping your own game and earning extra points. After your donation they serve you delicious chocolate chip cookies, perhaps even let you have a second serving. Of course these slices of delectable morsels are the Blood Center’s fancy footwork in seeding your return – the ace up their sleeve.

Your kind donation is of great advantage to the receiver. So rally your friends and show some love!

The Buddy System


By Michele Hyndman, Public Relations Manager, Stanford Blood Center

On Dec. 29, 2010, Linda Johnson became the first woman to make 500 donations at Stanford Blood Center. It was more than 20 years ago when Linda’s friend and Stanford Blood Center platelet donor, Stan Jensen, urged her to check if she would make a good platelet donor. Linda was a perfect candidate with good veins and a high platelet count.

As they have for more than two decades, Linda and Stan have donated through a specialized two-hour process that allows the Center to collect specific blood components such as platelets. This donation type allows them to donate up to 24 times a year. Whole-blood donors are limited to a maximum of about six donations per year. Stan has donated more than 350 times at Stanford Blood Center.

“I’ve been a blood donor my whole life,” said Johnson who began donating at other centers in college and through blood drives at work. “How much time have I spent in those chairs?” she wondered.


The media looks on as Linda Johnson makes her 500th blood donation.

Stan and Linda carpool every other week from Moss Beach to Palo Alto to donate at Stanford Blood Center. “We believe in Stanford, the quality of their work and the care for their donors,” said Stan.

When Linda was called several years ago to donate platelets for a specific patient for whom she was a match, it cemented her commitment to donate as often as she was allowed. “I’m saving someone’s life, and for me it’s just giving some of my time,” she said.

Both Linda and Stan list several common factors that keep them loyal Stanford Blood Center donors. “Linda and I share a common ethic that volunteering is the right thing to do,” said Stan.

They say getting to know donor room staff and listening to blood recipients share their stories at a Stanford Blood Center event for donors who have given more than 100 times are powerful motivators to keep them donating as often as possible. “The annual breakfasts are a great way to see other frequent donors, hear what’s new in blood banking and get to meet recipients and hear their success stories,” said Linda.

The cookies offered in the refreshment area are good too. While Linda likes the chocolate chip ones, Stan loves the snicker doodle and peanut butter cookies the best.

“Everyone connected with the blood center is always friendly and professional, and I look forward to my visits. I will continue to donate as long as I am able to do so. In 20 years, maybe I’ll be the first woman donor to reach 1,000 donations,” said Linda.

AIDS Screening: Stanford Blood Center’s Pioneering Role


By Ed Engleman, MD, Founder and Medical Director, Stanford Blood Center

During the early 1980s we decided to apply new research technology to a clinical problem: the prevention of the transmission by transfusion of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The problem was highly charged with social, political, legal, ethical, and economic overtones complicating the technical and medical issues at hand. In a decision that engendered intense controversy, in 1983 Stanford Blood Center instituted the first blood testing program specifically intended to reduce the risk of transfusion transmission of the then uncharacterized, but presumed infectious cause of AIDS.

AIDS epidemic: The initial response of the government and blood banking organizations
In 1981 the first cases of AIDS were reported in a cluster of homosexual men. In the two years following this report, the disease was diagnosed in many more homosexual men as well as in intravenous (IV) drug users, hemophiliacs, and transfusion recipients. The pattern of cases led the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) to conclude in March 1983 that AIDS was caused by an infectious agent that was transmissible both sexually and parenterally. Recognizing that some asymptomatic individuals likely harbored the etiologic agent for AIDS, and that this agent was transmissible by blood, the PHS recommended in March 1983 that blood centers request that members of groups at increased risk for AIDS voluntarily refrain from donating blood. AIDS risk groups were defined, at that time, as sexually active homosexual or bisexual men with multiple partners, Haitian entrants to the United States, present or past abusers of IV drugs, patients with hemophilia, and sexual partners of individuals in the above groups. Blood centers around the country implemented the PHS recommendation by providing prospective donors with an information sheet that described AIDS risk groups and requested that donors exclude themselves if they met the definition of risk.

It was predictable, however, that this approach wouldn’t work very well. First, it relied entirely on donor self-deferral. Second, the PHS definition of homosexual AIDS risk behavior was vague, making it possible for a prospective donor with a history of homosexual activity to feel that he personally was not at risk for AIDS and to proceed with blood donation. Nonetheless, in the spring of 1983, a joint statement issued by the American Red Cross (ARC), American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), and the Council of Community Blood Centers estimated the risk of getting AIDS from transfusion as "one in a million". This proclamation, intended to reassure the public, was based on the small number of reported AIDS cases as of that date; it did not take into account the epidemic pattern of spread and the lag between infection and development of clinical illness.

AIDS epidemic: The initial response of Stanford Blood Center
In the years that followed, the number of reported transfusion-transmitted AIDS cases increased geometrically, and it became apparent that the above statement, which was never retracted, underestimated the risk of transfusion by several orders of magnitude. In the spring of 1983 two patients with AIDS were treated at Stanford Hospital. Neither patient belonged to any of the identified AIDS risk groups, but both patients had received transfusions at other institutions in the San Francisco area and likely represented cases of transfusion-transmitted AIDS.

At this point, my colleagues and I at Stanford Blood Center felt that the presence of the presumed etiologic agent for AIDS in the local blood supply could not be ignored. Because of the potential lethality of this infection, we felt that self-deferral should not be relied upon as the sole means of protecting the blood supply.

An unusual aspect of AIDS was that every patient, as well as many high-risk persons without symptoms who went on to develop the disease months to years later, had a selective loss of white blood cells called CD4 T cells. In the year prior to the appearance of AIDS, my research group at Stanford Blood Center had identified these cells as playing a critical role in initiating immune responses. The loss of CD4 T cells in AIDS is what renders patients susceptible to a wide range of infectious diseases. Another population of white blood cells, called CD8 T cells, is generally spared in patients with AIDS until very late in the disease. Thus, the ratio of CD4 to CD8 cells (CD4/CD8) in the blood of AIDS patients and many high risk individuals was reduced from the normal level (approximately 2:1) to less than 1.


Research team develops a surrogate test

Since T cell abnormalities appeared to be a direct consequence of infection with the AIDS agent, we believed that testing for a reduced CD4/CD8 ratio would prove effective as a “surrogate” screening test for blood donors, even though we knew that transient inversions of this ratio could occur under benign conditions not related to AIDS. Because of my long-standing research interest in T cells and their subsets, we had access to a specialized instrument called a flow cytometer on which we could perform CD4/CD8 ratio analyses. Our particular instrument, which was commercially available, could be used for rapid testing of large numbers of samples. The cost of each test, including reagents and technician salary, was approximately $10. To assess the potential utility of this test, we carried out a pilot study on AIDS patients, individuals at high risk for AIDS, and healthy individuals who had no known risk. In this study a CD4/CD8 ratio of less than or equal to 0.85 identified all AIDS cases and the majority of likely AIDS carriers. Based on these results, in July 1983 Stanford Blood Center began screening all blood donations for reduced CD4/CD8 ratio, and blood from donors with a CD4/CD8 ratio less than or equal to 0.85 was destroyed.

In some donors, the abnormality resolved spontaneously, and future donations with normal ratios were transfused. However, the abnormality persisted in donors with a severely reduced ratio. Eight months after initiation of the T cell testing program, we were informed that a blood donor had been diagnosed with AIDS. His only donation to our center had occurred during the first month of the T cell testing program. This donation had been discarded because of a CD4/CD8 ratio of 0.29. This result represented early confirmation that our T cell screening program was successfully removing at least some AIDS-contaminated units. However, multiple units of blood donated by this individual at other blood centers during the preceding 3 years had been transfused.

All blood donations at Stanford were tested for reduced CD4/CD8 ratio between July 1983 and June 1985. A total of 33,831 blood donations were screened and 586 donations, or 1.7%, had CD4/CD8 ratios less than or equal to 0.85 and were discarded.

Thumbnail image for AbnormalTestResults.jpg

Serum samples retained from these donors with low CD4/CD8 ratio were tested for HIV antibody when this test became available in 1985, and 1.9% were positive for antibody to HIV.

Thumbnail image for HIVAntibodyResults.jpg

Thus we estimate that the T cell screening program removed from the blood supply approximately 1.9% of 586, or 11 HIV-infected blood donations. Our blood center typically divides blood donations into three components (red cells, plasma, and platelets), each of which is potentially transfused into a different patient. Therefore, our removal of 11 HIV-infected units protected up to 33 patients from acquiring this disease.


Criticism of our test
Despite the fact that by 1984 cases of transfusion-transmitted AIDS were increasing rapidly, neither the government nor national blood banking organizations recommended testing donor blood for AIDS. Indeed, despite evidence that high-risk individuals were showing up as blood donors, and that our blood test was effective at identifying such individuals, the blood banking organizations actively opposed the use of our test. They thought it was too expensive, that positive tests would reduce the number of eligible donors and cause blood shortages, and that high-risk individuals would present as blood donors simply to obtain a free AIDS test. With regard to our own program, we experienced no blood shortages as a consequence of discarding units from donors with abnormal T cell ratios, nor was there any evidence to suggest that individuals at high risk for AIDS donated blood as a result of our T cell testing program. In fact, the percentage of donors with abnormal CD4/CD8 ratio decreased over the two years of donor T cell testing, presumably due to self-deferral.

After HIV was discovered and a screening test to detect antibody to the virus was developed and mandated for purposes of screening all blood donors in the U.S., the extent of HIV contamination of the blood supply was finally revealed. Contrary to the estimates of "one in a million" risk from the national blood banking organizations, nearly 1 in 700 units of blood donations in metropolitan areas in the U.S. were found to be infected with HIV at the time of licensure of the HIV antibody test in 1985. In San Francisco frequency was closer to 1 in 100. We estimate that the total number of transfusion-related HIV transmissions that occurred from 1983 to1985 was at least 10,000-20,000. It seems evident that most of these cases could have been avoided had our test been used.

Once information about the extent of AIDS in the blood supply became known, the public reacted angrily to what was perceived as a conspiracy to deceive. This anger was heightened when the public also learned about the refusal of other blood banks to use the test we had developed. Thereafter, under considerable pressure from congress, the FDA adopted an aggressive policy requiring all blood banks to rigorously test donated blood for a variety of potentially dangerous infectious agents. As a result, today more than 10 such tests are routinely used and the blood supply is safer than it has ever been. Are we proud of the test we developed and the decision we made to use it at Stanford, despite intense criticism from our blood banking colleagues? You bet!

1. More detailed information on our AIDS testing program can be found in: Galel, SA., Lifson, JD and Engleman, EG. Prevention of AIDS Transmission through screening of the blood supply. Annual Reviews of Immunology 13:201-27, 1995.

2. Although I led the effort to develop and apply our AIDS test, the program would not have been successful without the participation of Jeffrey Lifson, Dennis Sasaki, Claudia Benike and Susan Galel, who were members of my research group at the time, as well as the unwavering support of my faculty colleague, Carl Grumet, and the former Chairman of the Department of Pathology, David Korn.

Born To Do This

By Geoff Belanger, Donor Services Document & Project Manager


I’ve worked at the Blood Center for a little over seven years now in a variety of roles, beginning as a phlebotomist. If you’ve donated on a mobile between 2004 and 2008, there is a good chance I drew your blood, some more than a few times.

Every so often we, as employees, are asked why we stay here. For me, the answer is simple. I understand first-hand the importance of the work we do because blood collected at Stanford saved my life. I was born with a congenital blood disorder called Diamond Blackfan syndrome. What that means is my bone marrow would not produce red blood cells. These symptoms manifested immediately after I was born and I had to be transfused at just a few months old. We were living in the Philippines at the time. My family took me back to the U.S. where I was diagnosed at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital by Dr. Bert Glader, who still works there. I was prescribed prednisone, which triggered red blood cell production until I reached puberty. At that point no medication would work and I became transfusion dependent. I was transfused with two units of packed red cells, each month at LPCH for a little under a year. All the blood I received was collected at SBC when we were still located at 800 Welch Road. Before the first transfusion at LPCH my hemoglobin count was 7.0 g/dL. Remember, the minimum to donate blood is 12.5 g/dL. Getting two units with an hgb count of 7.0 makes you feel like a million bucks.

This experience has ignited a deep passion for the work I do here. This passion has allowed me to succeed in all my roles here, working on blood drives, training new nurses and phlebotomists, and now writing standard operating procedures.

I’ve put my whole self into the blood center, but the donors are what made it possible, since they are literally a part of me.

I’m not the only one who feels connected to the Blood Center because of my experience. My mother, Susan, is a charge nurse on the mobile blood drives and she has the same passion I do. If you’ve met her before, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Good news is that I’ve been in remission for over 10 years. No more blood transfusions or medication. My hemoglobin count stays right around 14.0 and if I want it checked I can just go down the hall and have my finger poked.

Giving Blood is Perhaps the Ultimate Staycation


By John Williams, Marketing Manager, Stanford Blood Center.

Flights are expensive, crowded, and uncomfortable. The price of gas is going up, up, up. So more and more people are staying put for their vacation, or staycation. What to do? I’ve heard that some people take a class, work on their house, or do nothing at all. Add volunteering to this list.

There are many worthy organizations that provide volunteer opportunities in your own back yard. Habitat for Humanity for instance, where individuals or groups can help build housing for those in need. A growing number of people are willing to contribute their vacation time to something that can help others.

If I said to you that you could potentially save someone’s life by giving about one hour of your time, how would you feel? This is what giving blood is about. It’s quick, free, rewarding, and think about the karmic points you’ll get. And the next time at a party when your uber-tanned friend talks about their trip to Maui, having dropped $5,000 at the Hotel Exclusiva Expensiva, you can brag, “I’m feeling pretty rested. Read a novel or two, did lots of bike rides, and, oh yeah, I saved a couple of lives.”

Why All the Same Questions?

By Julie Ruel, Social Media Manager, Stanford Blood Center

Donor ID Screen Travel.jpg

One common question we hear from blood donors is, “Why do I need to answer the same questions each time I come in to give blood? Can’t you keep my responses on file?” We cannot and here’s why. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all blood centers ask all blood donors all questions on the day of each blood donation as a safety measure. Honesty and consistency in answering these questions is critical. The safety of the blood supply and the patients receiving the blood depend on truthful answers.

Today at our Hillview Center, we’re very excited about the launch of a new system for the registration process called Donor ID. As mentioned above, we’ll still ask the same health history questions each time, but this new technology will streamline the process. Instead of answering the questionnaire with a pen and paper, donors will review and answer questions using a computer touch screen.

Phillip King (below, in chair) was our very first donor to try out the new software. Gathered around him are several SBC staff members, happy that the process is running smoothly!


Some of the benefits of Donor ID:

• streamline the registration process for blood donors
• reduce the likelihood of transcription errors by eliminating some of the manual data entry
• reduce the overall amount of paper produced

Donor ID will be rolling out at our other two Center locations plus mobile blood drives throughout the summer months.

The below video highlights the donation process from start to finish, including a demonstration of the new registration process:

Pulitzer Prize for Blood Donation Stories

By Julie Ruel, Social Media Manager, Stanford Blood Center


It was December 1944 and a young journalist for the Call-Bulletin in San Francisco had an idea; one that would earn him a Pulitzer Prize for reporting. Jack McDowell, like so many other young men living in a time of war, volunteered to go fight for his country. His poor eyesight kept him out but it was ultimately his vision for this series of articles that won him the prestigious prize.

McDowell decided to accompany over 100 “little pint bottles” of blood from the arms of donors in San Francisco to the arms of wounded soldiers some 6,000 miles away.

His journey began at the Red Cross Center in the city's Telegraph Hill district as he chatted with donors, asking them to share some things about themselves. He listened to and made note of their stories. Forty-eight hours later, after flying with the plywood cases of blood across the Pacific, he was standing at the foot of the bed of a Navy Seabee in Guam. He watched as the severely burned young man received blood from a stranger he remembered meeting. Chelsa O’Brien had just moved to San Francisco from Boston and the first thing she did was make an appointment to give blood because it made her “feel like she really belonged to the community”. There were immediate signs of improvement as the Seabee lay there hearing stories about the original owner of the pint. McDowell continued on to more of the wounded, sharing glimpses of the personalities behind the pints of blood pumping life back into them.

McDowell’s articles are fascinating in their own right. But now, 65 years later, I can’t help but be intrigued by the information in his articles in other ways. I think about the advances we’ve made in blood banking since then. He often referred to the bottles he traveled with and I wonder – were they actually glass bottles? Not plastic bags? Yes, indeed. It was a few years later when they started using plastic collection bags, greatly reducing the risk of contamination and revolutionizing blood collection.

In addition, research over the past several decades has led to better compatibility testing, resulting in breakthroughs in transfusion medicine and countless lives saved.

We can certainly draw parallels between then and now as well. Whether it’s 1944 and people are asked to give blood for war victims or it’s 2011 and you’re responding to a critical shortage message broadcast on Twitter, communities come together to help those in need.

McDowell’s daughter, Judy, is a Stanford Blood Center donor and has graciously loaned us the Pulitzer Prize and original newspaper articles. They will be on exhibit at our Hillview Donor Center through Friday, June 3.

Groovy Gear for Gracious Givers

By John Williams, Marketing Manager, Stanford Blood Center


For several years Stanford Blood Center has given away tie dye t-shirts to blood donors as promotional items. Why?

We know that the motivation for donors to give blood is obviously to save lives and that this is a completely unselfish act. However, we never take for granted the time and effort of each donor that visits one of our Centers or mobile blood drives. That’s why we sometimes give away modest gifts as a reward to our donors for their kind acts of generosity. We especially do this at times when our inventory is low, such as the summer months when vacations are in full swing.

Several years ago another blood center inspired us with a campaign to give away tie dye t-shirts. This Giving is Groovy Grateful Life Tour campaign, in the spirit of The Grateful Dead, caught on and is now a much anticipated annual promotion. As we swap out the design each year, many donors have built up a collection of these shirts, and it’s a matter of pride to show off the result of so many life-saving donations.

Visit our Facebook page and in a line or two, tell us why YOU think giving is groovy! Please include a picture of yourself in one of our tie dye shirts. Each week during the run of the t-shirt promotion (now through 7/11/11), we’ll pick one of you to be the “Face of SBC”, using your picture as our profile image for the week. So post your pics on our wall, and we’ll pick the grooviest of them all!

Click here for details on getting your 2011 tie dye.

Small Fears and Big Deals

By Dr. Duff Howell, 277-time blood donor and counting

One of my finer enduring gifts was a conversation about donating blood that I had 15 or 20 years ago. I'd said, "I never look when they put the needle in. I've always hated needles, freaks me out, can't watch, better to look away." My buddy Dane had replied, “Oh no, I always look - you have to look right at the needle and watch. Trust me, really it's better.”

I'd had typical kid misgivings about shots, and my first blood donation, back in the mid-80s, had happened in spite of my dodgy feelings about needles. It had seemed to go okay until I was drinking OJ afterward and suddenly woke up on a cot, with a bemused volunteer saying, “You kind of nodded off into your cookie plate, big guy. You okay now?” I was, so in spite of this auspicious start and unchanged feelings about needles, I tried it again a few months later, and had pretty much the same thing happen. Blood donations got to be an interesting internal contest between wanting to do a good deed and suspecting I'd get woozy.

Dane was someone I really trusted, so, in spite of my feelings about the needle, the next time I went to the blood bank, I turned my eyes to my arm and watched... and... no doubt helped by the great phlebotomy at Stanford, it was no big deal.

Well, actually it was a very big deal - this big emotional sigh went through me, the kind that says, “Dang, all those years getting myself all worked up over something I couldn't even bear to watch, and now that I watched, it's not so bad. I never got woozy or light-headed again, and came to realize that fixating on how much I thought I hated needles was the cause of most of that. At the risk of mixing a metaphor, once I looked, I've never looked back, moving on to a lot more donations, organizing blood drives, and trying to think up ways to convince other people that blood donation is both a very big deal, and not such a big deal.

I use that example for other situations in life where you can clench your jaw and look away at the last second and have something done to you, or keep watching, presume less than the worst, and be part of the process. When your young kid freaks out and says that there's a monster in the closet, you can roll your eyes and say 'you're imagining it, go back to bed'.... or you can say 'let's go look together', and coach the act of shining a light on what you think you're afraid of. Involvement is part of it - facing someone's anxiety with them, whether on their first bunny ski slope, a relaxed run through a mock job interview, or being a donor-buddy and signing up with them for a blood drive. Don't underestimate how many great sighs of relief, of 'that wasn't such a big deal', are out there every day, waiting for a confident example to get them started. Dane probably didn't think much of telling me to watch the needle, but I'm glad that he did, and hope to continue to pay it forward.

Stanford Blood Center has some truly great phlebotomists. When you watch, you get to see people do the fine art of a needle stick really well. It's an amazing little piece of performance art to get to witness and appreciate. Next time you get a great needle stick, take the time to tell the nurse that they did a great job. I guarantee you it is another opportunity for something to be no big deal, and a very big deal, all at once.

Are there any tactics you'd like to share on overcoming your own fears?

This is Sharks Territory

By John Williams, Marketing Manager, Stanford Blood Center

Congratulations - the Sharks made it to the third round of the play-offs - let’s hear it for the local team! Isn’t loyalty a wonderful virtue? Wherever you go in The South Bay and beyond you see signs which say, “This is Sharks Territory.” With increasing globalization it is refreshing to see a focus on a local team which we can call our own.

In an age of homogenization, where you see the same, cookie-cutter gas stations, fast food restaurants, and stores in every town, people are turning to local sources for a sense of identity. Farmers markets are popping up everywhere, so you can know where your food comes from, and "Shop locally" campaigns are increasingly popular. This is a kind of backlash to the loss of community that’s occurring.

There is perhaps nothing more quintessentially local in nature than a sports team, nor the rabid fans who support it. The Sharks fans embody this sense of loyalty. And the San Jose Sharks give back, not only by doing their best to win games on behalf of their fans, but also through their generous foundation which helps the community. The Stanford Blood Center blood drives held annually at The HP Pavilion in winter yield the highest amount of donations of any mobile. Thank you Sharks! Thank you Sharks fans! Thank you blood donors. The slogan “Play Hockey, Give Blood” takes on a whole new meaning.

This brings me to another local community asset – Stanford Blood Center, where all of the blood products which donors generously donate are collected for local patients at local hospitals. Donors, your blood goes to Stanford, LPCH, El Camino, El Camino-Los Gatos, O’Connor, and the Palo Alto VA. Thank you for supporting our local community.

Some Things are Universal

By John Williams, Marketing Manager, Stanford Blood Center


Every day in the news we are bombarded with images of conflict, disaster, and crime. We are constantly reminded of the differences between people, especially race, ideology, or nation state. Pro Gaddafi versus anti-Gaddafi forces; warring Afghani factions: Sunni versus Shiites; white versus black. We are often fearful of those who are unlike ourselves.

Some things, however, are common to all of us, whether we’re rich or poor, Chinese or Sudanese. Blood is one of them. We can’t live without it and, when it’s needed, it’s often in short supply. If you do a simple search on the web for blood shortages, you’ll discover just how universal this phenomenon is:

Chinese health minister donates blood amid country's blood shortage

Uzbekistan facing shortages of donor blood

Shortage of Blood Stock in South Africa

The precious blood of Russia’s donors

New Zealand Blood bank warns of donor crisis in 5 years

Sweden reports nationwide blood shortage

And yet, public-minded citizens around the world do give blood, many on a regular basis. Donating blood is an anonymous act. Unless it’s an autologous or designated donation, the recipient doesn’t know who donated on their behalf. Those receiving the blood products are simply thankful that someone did. Blood is what binds us together. We speak of “blood brothers and “flesh and blood”, terms which reflect a connection. Perhaps we should consider that one day, our life may be saved by someone who is very different than ourselves.

Between a Rock and a Heart Place

By John Williams, Marketing Manager, Stanford Blood Center

Isn’t the earth an amazing place? We abuse it every day and it still forgives us. I think we often fail to see it as a living organism. Flora and fauna are a pretty obvious aspect of earth’s living organisms, but much of the earth is comprised of rocks, of course.

I read an interesting article about igneous rocks by Mike Strickler, a geologist who goes by the name “Geo Man”. He considers basalt and granite to be the two most important rocks in the crust. He explains that basalt is extrusive, meaning that it is borne of the magma that breaks through the earth’s crust and erupts on the surface. Many different types of volcanoes are home to basaltic lava flow. What struck me was Mike’s analogy in the blog post: “Basaltic magma is like the blood of the earth - it's what comes out when the earth's skin is cut the whole way through.” Fascinating!

The earth as an ecosystem is analogous to the human body, and both organisms are fragile in their own way. Earth Day reminds us of the need to celebrate this amazing planet. Perhaps we should revel in awe of life each and every day by looking no further than our own being. Just like the continual flux of basalt in the earth’s crust, we have this life saving substance called blood running through our veins. Why not share some of this with those in need? Giving blood is giving life. The earth would appreciate it.

Sit. Stay. Donate.


By Julie Ruel, Social Media Manager, Stanford Blood Center

In speaking with Dr. Sean Owens about the transfusion department he heads at UC Davis, I found they have a similar blood donation operation to Stanford Blood Center. They go to great measures to ensure a safe blood supply, rely on volunteer community blood donors, have certain weight and age requirements, and many of their donors return on a regular basis. But Dr. Owens is a Veterinary Clinical Pathologist at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital and his blood donors are dogs.

When the program began, the furry donors came from private rescue organizations. They lived at the facility and had part time jobs as lifesavers for sick and injured dogs. Their full time job was to work with the staff and learn how to be suitable family pets so they could eventually be adopted. They worked hard at this and succeeded at finding loving homes.

Because the hospital needed hundreds of blood donors and didn’t have the resources for enough trainers available for the dogs, Dr. Owens and his staff turned to the community. “It can be difficult for people to drive 30 minutes, stay for 45, then drive 30 minutes to get back home again. But they do it because of the benefit.” The owners are given heartworm pills, flea and tick medication and overall preventative maintenance for their pet (which dog owners will agree is a nice financial benefit!). The program also provides a rare opportunity for people to become involved in a unique way with veterinary medicine; something most wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to experience.

For many, the part of giving back to the community is especially rewarding. Each summer, the veterinarians and dog owners get together for a picnic in support of the special donors who are proudly in attendance as well. Often times, the doctors will recognize the name of a dog, remember the scenario in which its blood was used and share the story with the owner. Having that meaningful connection results in a high rate of regular, repeat donors. We’re quite certain the dogs insist on coming back, too.

The hospital is always on the prowl for new donors. Ultimately they plan on purchasing a mobile unit to expand their geographical reach and increase their donor base. They’ve raised about half of the $100K it would cost to purchase the vehicle. For now, they’ll continue to offer tummy rubs to keep their local donors happy and coming back.

If you’re in the Davis area and interested in getting your four-legged buddy involved in the program, please visit their website. There are a few things to know first. Potential doggie donors must:

• Weigh at least 50 pounds (60-80 pounds is preferred)
• Be between one and eight years of age
• Never have been pregnant

And yes, Max, you get to take home a bag of yummy treats each time for being such a good dog.

Give Yourself Away


The following piece by blood donor Kathy Harris is something she voluntarily wrote following her very first blood donation. Please be sure to share it with your friends who are not yet blood donors as a bit of encouragement to give it a try.

Can you believe it's already been (more than) 56 days since I donated blood for the first time? Though the reminder card on my fridge said I'd be eligible to donate again on the 11th, I hadn't done anything about it until I received a thick envelope of information from Stanford Blood Center yesterday. It included lots of information on their programs and a card with my new donor ID number, name, and blood type - I think so that future donations can go faster. If nothing else it made me feel especially legit.

Unfortunately blood donors are an exclusive club. Of the less than 38% of Americans eligible to donate blood, only about 5% actually do (Red Cross, Mayo Clinic). In the Bay Area, of approximately 7.1 million residents, only 39% are eligible to donate at any given time, and of that only about 3% actually donate (Stanford Blood Center). Compare that to the U.S. population where 24% have a bachelor's degree and 9% have an advanced degree. Here's to being extra special, in much less time and without costing a dime.

The materials also included a link to a website where I could log in with that ID number to see my wellness stats including cholesterol, blood pressure, pulse, and temperature from each donation -- hey, a free mini physical every two months! And in case you care, my iron was actually a little above average (despite not eating red meat since middle school -- thanks to routine consumption of baby spinach, walnuts, Centrum Ultra Women's, and Lucky Charms) and my blood pressure was a "normal low" in the "athlete" range (a proud moment, I hope I can keep up... err down). Of course that may also be because at 5'2" I'm the size of a child, but we'll just stick with the athlete part.

I felt extra empowered that I could make a difference when I found out that I'm in the lucky < 50% of Americans who do not have cytomegalovirus (CMV). CMV is a member of the herpes family that can, and usually does, remain relatively dormant. Most otherwise healthy folks don't experience any symptoms but once you have it, it stays in your body for the rest of your life. To already high-risk patients -- organ transplant recipients, people with leukemia, and HIV positive individuals -- CMV can be deadly. Hence though it really makes absolutely no difference in my day to day life, it's awesome for blood donation because it means the blood I give can be given to patients with compromised immune systems. And I especially love that.

We are so "connected" to each other through various technical mediums, and yet so separated from each other. And despite medical advancements, this artificiality has yet to replace the lifeblood that connects our community. So if you're feeling a bit disillusioned -- especially among the cords (or lack there of) in Silicon Valley -- what more powerful way to reconnect and ground yourself in what's real than to donate blood?

As if saving lives + colorful bandages + stickers + cookies + juice aren't enough of an incentive for you to give, at Stanford Blood Center you'll also earn points each time you give -- and then you can trade those in for cool stuff at their Loyalty Store! I've already earned 100 points for my first donation at the Rivals for Life blood drive, and I think the number of points goes up each time you come back -- even higher if you donate a double unit of red cells. The t-shirts and what not are cool, but you better believe I'm going for the--that's right--Stanford Blood Center cycling jersey!!! No sweat, only 7,900 more points to go!


Click here to be taken to the original post on Kathy's blog.

The Real Winners


By Julie Ruel, Social Media Manager, Stanford Blood Center

Arriving to work on a typical day, I boot up my iMac, check my Google Reader and see something about Apple passing Microsoft as the most valuable tech company. Then I turn to Facebook for friend news and Twitter to see what’s happening. I imagine my routine isn’t all that different from most others’. But what is unique is getting to see many of these companies compete in a very different way.

In 2010, we introduced the Donor Cup; a friendly blood drive competition among some of the tech companies responsible for the very technology I rely upon throughout my day. Inspired by the World Cup soccer games, companies were invited to participate by scheduling at least four blood drives, one per quarter, during the year. Under the rules of play, they were ranked on their performance in a variety of categories, including percent of employee participation, percent of new donors, and highest total units collected.

We’ll be announcing the top overall winning company at an upcoming awards ceremony. We’ll also have the opportunity to recognize the hard work and dedication of the individual blood drive coordinators at these companies, many of whom go above and beyond their regular job duties to facilitate blood drive hosting.

In addition to taking part in the Donor Cup, three of our participants recently made an important announcement. Apple, eBay, and HP, part of a Corporate Partners Program, will be contributing $150 million toward the development of the New Stanford Hospital. Also involved in the Program are leading tech companies Intel, Intuit, and Oracle, all of which hold regular blood drives with us throughout the year. The three Donor Cup participants collectively brought in over 800 units of blood, many of which are shipped to the Hospital that will one day be the “global model for patient-centered, technologically advanced health care”.

But let’s not forget who the real winners are. Thousands of local patients have been given a second chance at life because of the important efforts of these organizations.

Valentine's Day Haikus


By Donors & Friends of SBC

We asked for your best Valentine's Day haikus...

And that we received!
What a great compilation.
Blood donors are sweet :-)

Thankfully, your submissions are much better than that! Here they are, in no particular order:

The love you offer
It’s what’s inside
The wrapping, precious

Karen Kneedler

I have enough blood
To give a pint tomorrow.
And in 8 weeks too.

Life giving logic:
You can’t get blood from a stone.
So get it from me.

I’m the type for you,
As in type O positive.
Happy Valentine’s.

Mark Papamarcos

DRBC me...
Double the amount of good.
Where is my cookie?

Thomas Bramwell

New life blooms in spring
Lines form at the blood mobile
Great expectations

Autumn of one’s years
Does not discourage donors
Old blood gives new life

Love is in the air
Strong hearts pump with great passion
The new blood that flows

Two hearts beat strongly
One alive with a new gift
The other new joy

Cathy Lego

My blood: life and gift
For myself and those in need
Still hate the needle

Susan Weedon

Pregnancy was fun
But childbirth was near-fatal
Thanks for all the blood

Lauren Larsen

Blood is life
Just as the human
To the child

Green fields
Blue sky evening
Red brings warmth

Does today matter
Without you

Jeff Owen

My heart would have stopped
and my final breath of air
saved by a small drop

It is in your blood
to donate blood to the loss
gift of second chance

It is Christmas eve
and do not know what to give
but my wife needs blood

Leonard Siew

Each beat of my heart
circulates life-giving blood
to someone in need.

By donating blood,
I share my health with others
and celebrate life.

Old ABC machines
kept you from scratching your nose.
One-arm machines rock!

Donate blood and get
apples, coffee, and cookies.
Blue platelet special!

When I give platelets,
all of the blood center staff
are gentle and kind.

Lia Adams

What is mine is not
It is for any who need
To recycle life

Steve Honey

Open loving heart
Abundance, bliss, light and calm
Enjoy and relish

Dance Fairy

It is a tiny pipe,
out of my veins.
Our hearts are talking.
I love you!

Reza Satrap

Blood flows inside me
A simple gift I can give
Renew life, give hope

Oh what a notion
An hour spent in a chair
Will save others’ lives

What if it were me
Laying, trying to survive
I’d wish for your help

Just one needle prick
Then snickerdoodles galore
Saving lives is fun!

Everyone can be
A hero to a stranger
Give at SBC

Beylah Redke

We watch you suffer
Pain cannot really be shared
They tell me this helps

Why should I bother?
Not kith, not kin, just strangers.
Love can be quiet.

each time they wound me
Yet still I keep coming back
And I leave content


Happy is the man
Who donates with his partner
Two can save many

Patients need our blood.
We donate blood together.
We all live long lives.

Blood means life
Life means more to me
Thanks to you

Gift of blood
We donate today
Gift of life

We met and knew it then dear
Donating blood was part of our lives
Thanks for a wonderful life.

You and I both know
Platelet donors are special
Now I feel special

Scary to give blood?
Phlebotomists are awesome!
I’ll donate again.

Platelets are needed
Special donors needed too
Paul, you are special

I watch you squeeze your left hand.
Pumping blood to save a precious life
Will your left hand wear my ring?

Squeezing your left hand
Pumping to save precious lives.
New ring for left hand?

I watch you donate blood
You save many lives today
My heart swells with pride

When donating blood
Think of those you help today
Come again next month

Kathy Miller

Sometimes feared and shunned
Ignored until it’s needed
The ultimate gift

Days are crowded, full
Work and friends and errands call
One hour saves one life

A heart filled with love
Touches many hopeless lives
Share your blood today

Red gifts from the heart
What better Valentine than
A pint of yourself?

Sheila Scobba Banning

Ah, precious platelet
Parting is such sweet sorrow
Pass my love along!

Meant for each other
Earnest marrow testing, and
Now... phenotype match!

Golden donor smile
My living blood relatives?
I must have hundreds!

My pampered arm veins
Vera’s doing the needles
Phlebotomy snob.

Eight weeks, nine seconds
Passed since my last donation
...who could be calling?

Stay well hydrated
Leave pet mosquito in cage
Nix Guam safari

All of those movies
That I never would have seen
But for platelet days

Got my routine down.
The donation’s not over
‘Till I taste the POG

Long term awareness
‘Golden Donor’ means you know
Much more is needed!

Duff Howell

From your veins come forth
donations vital to all.
Your kindness saves lives.

It's never too late
to change someone's life for good.
Give a valentine.

Natalie Romano

A huge thank-you to all the authors for submitting your poems.


Paying it Forward

The following piece is pulled from a blog
whose author has been kind enough to allow
us to re-post their content.

November 4, 2010

I went to the Annual Stanford Blood Center Precious Mettle Breakfast today. This was my second time in attendance… The first time was in 2007, and I felt slightly guilty for having only donated maybe 20 times since 2007. :-) But I was in LA for two years, and I did donate with the Red Cross while I was down there. I donated today after the breakfast, which brought my total at Stanford to 133. Someone asked me how many times I’ve donated across all centers, but I figure between the Chicago (while I was at Northwestern), LA (while I was at USC), and Clearwater (while I was working onsite at Jabil Circuits) centers, it’s probably only around 145-150. My current immediate goal is to hit 140 at Stanford before I leave for India, though I don’t think there are enough weeks left for me to hit that goal…

At the breakfast today, there was a speaker: Larry Frederick. He has been a donor advocate for a number of years and has an amazing story. In 1982, his life was nearly taken away by a drunk driver while Larry, an Oakland police officer, had just pulled over another motorist. Larry was thrown 40 feet, broke nearly every bone in his body, and required countless units of blood to save his life. He eventually made a remarkable recovery, and now bikes across the country encouraging the world to donate blood. His story, along with a handful of others presented today, really highlights the need for donations, and how critical it is for more people to donate. People ask me why I donate so much. One reason is that so few people do, so I am making up for them. But also, I feel like I’m paying it forward. Some day, I might need someone else’s blood, and I can certainly appreciate that mystery donor’s efforts.

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