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In December 1950 the San Diego Blood Bank was established through the support of the San Diego County Medical Society. The foresight and dedication of founding fathers Dr. Thomas O'Connell and Dr. Frederick G. Hollander, led us to the San Diego Blood Bank of today, an organization known for excellence in its service to our community.
Prominent San Diegans have taken pride in the San Diego Blood Bank from its earliest beginnings. , Jonas Salk, Allan Klauber, Neil Morgan, John Quimby, William Stephens, Sr., Legler Benbough, Dr. J.B. Askew, Mayor Harley Knox and Councilman Charles C. Dail are among those who supported it during its first two decades.
From 1950 to 1953, annual donations averaged 27,000 pints in San Diego County. In the 1960s San Diego Blood Bank growth continued and so did donations, nearly 40,000 pints were given annually by 1969. The 1970s ushered in an era of tremendous development. Our landmark Hillcrest headquarters opened in 1972 and our first satellite location, the North County Donor Center, opened in Escondido in 1978. By 1986, donations reached 86,000 pints annually and have exceeded 100,000 for many years now. Today, we operate five full-service regional centers and 12 fully equipped mobile units available for on-site blood drives. San Diego Blood Bank fixed centers are located in El Cajon, Escondido, Sabre Springs, San Diego and Vista. Our bloodmobiles travel throughout the Southern California region from San Diego’s most southern cities to the Imperial Valley in the east and as far north as Orange County..
Dramatic events and exciting medical advances have accelerated our development. The progress of open-heart surgery and its concurrent blood requirements in the mid-1960s propelled the San Diego Blood Bank into an even more vital role in our community. In the late 1960s, we were also in the forefront of medical technology when we were one of the first blood banks in California to institute hepatitis screening on all donated blood. The San Diego Blood Bank has also helped to develop and institute stringent blood screening tests as soon as they were approved by state and federal licensure. In addition, in 1981 we were among the first blood banks in the nation to formalize a designated donor program, which allows patients to select their own donors. Our autologous donor program also was put into place more than 30 years ago for patients who wish to pre-deposit their own blood for planned surgery.
One thing that has not changed since the very beginning is the remarkable commitment and selfless spirit of our most vital resource-blood donors. Our entire donor population is solely volunteer and has been since 1974. Some of today’s donors are as young as 17 and nearly half are women. Their generosity is as keen as ever. In fact, a few of our regular donors have been with us almost as long as we’ve been in existence!
The San Diego Blood Bank is licensed by the State of California Department of Health Services and by the Federal Food and Drug Administration. It is a fully accredited member of the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) and a member of the California Blood Bank Society (CBBS), America’s Blood Centers (ABC), Blood Centers of America (BCA), the Blood Centers of California (BCC) and is the local Cord Blood Registry for the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP). It is also the California Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) designated Southern California Regional Operations Center for the distribution of blood to Southern California in the event of a major disaster or act of terrorism in the State of California.
WHAT WE DO
On November 15, 1972 at the official dedication of the San Diego Blood Bank headquarters previously located on Upas St., the theme heard throughout the morning was that a total community effort will sustain the San Diego Blood Bank. Speaking at the dedication ceremony, Dr. Jonas A. Salk noted, “This building and the organization which made it possible evince a concern and respect for the human individual that is self-evident. The Blood Bank is a sign of the enormous health and strength in the community.”
Again on June 22, 2011, as the current headquarters building was dedicated at 3636 Gateway Center Ave., blood donors Jerry Sanders, Mayor of the City of San Diego, Greg Cox, San Diego County Supervisor, and blood recipient and former Chargers Hall of Fame kicker Rolf Benirschke re-emphasized the need for total commitment to maintaining the community’s blood supply through the San Diego Blood Bank.
In the early years, the San Diego Blood Bank collected stored and distributed blood products to hospitals in San Diego County just as it does today. Unlike those early years however, when the San Diego Blood Bank paid donors, the total amount of blood now brought into the San Diego Blood Bank is provided by a 100% volunteer donor effort. In 1968, 4,000 units of blood a month supplied the needs of our local hospitals. We now process approximately 10,000 units of blood per month and serve hospitals throughout Southern California.
The San Diego Blood Bank now also provides the Southern California region’s hospitals with a wide range of blood banking services. These include blood collection, component preparation, plateletpheresis, plasmapheresis, leukapheresis, washed blood, frozen blood, autologous storage, designated donation services and a reference laboratory. The Cell Therapy Program of the San Diego Blood Bank operates the Cord Blood Program providing lifesaving stem cell transplants to patients worldwide.
Today, the San Diego Blood Bank is growing to meet the changing needs of our health care community. We now supply more than 50 hospitals in four Southern California counties. These counties include San Diego, Imperial, Orange, and Los Angeles. Frozen blood laboratories are now operated to accommodate storage of frequently used and rare blood types, and for patients who wish to donate blood for their own future use. We also offer continuing education for the blood bank community.
The San Diego Blood Bank Responds Quickly and Decisively In Times Of Tragedy
- On September 11, 2001, with the help of the United States Navy, the San Diego Blood Bank sent 380 pints of blood to New York on the afternoon of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. On the day of the tragedy and the days that followed, donors lined up to give blood, many waiting in line for several hours. By the end of the week, over 3,000 blood donations were made at centers and on bloodmobiles.
- In March 2001, nearly 2,100 pints of blood were donated at San Diego Blood Bank donor centers and on bloodmobiles during the week following the Santana High School shooting.
- In 1994 more than 100 pints of blood were sent to Los Angeles-area hospitals in the aftermath of the Northridge earthquake.
- In 1991 the San Diego Blood Bank responded to a Department of Defense request for weekly blood shipments during Operation Desert Storm. Consequently, the San Diego Blood Bank anticipated that donor response would double and immediately instituted a contingency plan to handle
- In 1989 the San Diego Blood Bank sent blood to San Francisco in the aftermath of the Bay Area earthquake that injured hundreds.
- In July 1984, the San Diego Blood Bank responded to an outpouring of more than 1,000 donors in the wake of a massacre at a McDonald's restaurant in San Ysidro.
- In July 1981, thanks to the generous donation of facilities at the Town and Country Convention Center by owner Terry Brown, the San Diego Blood Bank remained able to accept blood donations without interruption after a fire destroyed it’s Upas Street donor center.