A History of Blood Collection: January 7, 2013

Walter Bullock is always willing to roll up his sleeve and pitch in.

“Well I do it often- I think somebody might need some and I got plenty of it,” says Walter Bullock.

For 50 years now, Lee Memorial Health System has counted on blood donors like Bullock. The blood center opened in 1963. In five decades it’s not only the faces that have changed, but the processes.

“We test for everything transmittable. Way back in the 70’s they did just random batches of testing so now every single unit is tested,” says Nancy Hendrick, with Lee Memorial Health System Blood Center.

In light of HIV, Hepatitis C and many other diseases, the federal government established rules for screening to reduce the risk from blood transfusions.

Out of all the advancements in the last 50 years one of the most important involves storage. Red blood can now be refrigerated and stored up to 42 days.
“Now we’re able to refrigerate those units to keep them under the correct temperatures. We also have fresh frozen plasma. So all these things have changed to make sure it’s adequate blood inventory,” says Hendrick.

In the early years, the blood center depended on what was called a living blood bank. Their storage was inside their donors.

“They used to have volunteers go out into the community and type people and keep records of their blood type and when they needed it for someone or they knew a particular patient would need their blood type they would call them in,” says Hendrick.

Times have changed, but some things have not...

“You have to have saved many lives,” says Bullock.

And now the Blood Center is part of a living history.