We are pleased to introduce to you all our guest blogger of the month, Jim MacPherson, CEO of America’s Blood Center’s (ABC). We would like to thank Jim for sharing his celebratory words with us!
Anniversaries are wonderful events that give us a sense of our history. The year ahead commemorates several groundbreaking events in blood banking.
Up until the late 1930s, most transfusions were direct vein-to-vein. But then Bernard Fantus, MD, a Hungarian immigrant in Chicago, read about Russians developing depots of stored blood for use as needed in hospitals. In 1937, Dr. Fantus opened the “Blood Preservation Laboratory” at Cook County hospital, which was the first hospital blood bank in the US.
A few years later, DeWitt Burnham, MD, was fascinated with the concept of assuring a blood supply where it was needed within a community. He contacted Cook County and, in June 1941, with the support of the San Francisco Medical Foundation, opened the first US community blood center (Irwin Memorial Blood Bank, now Blood Centers of the Pacific) to coordinate donor collections and respond to growing hospital needs.
Just months later, one of the lessons learned from the attack on Pearl Harbor was about the need for a coordinated, community-based blood supply. So in 1942, the Blood Bank of Hawaii (BBH) was born. Interestingly, one of the technologists who responded to Pearl Harbor and helped to found BBH was Bernice Hemphill. In 1944, Ms. Hemphill became executive director of Irwin, and in 1949 she helped found the American Association of Blood Banks (now AABB), as an association of community blood centers.
In 1962, seven AABB founding blood center CEOs believed that the organization had become “too Red Cross and nationally focused” and formed the Community Blood Bank Council (CBBC) to “help blood centers serve their community.” Of course, CBBC is now America’s Blood Centers.
Anniversaries galore: 75 years for Cook County, 70 for Irwin and BBH, and 50 for ABC! Also, next month is my 25th year as ABC CEO, and December marks my 40th year in blood banking. There is one great year of parties ahead. They will include a major celebration at our annual meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., next March – we hope you can join us!