Dr. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary of health at the US Department of Health & Human Services, and Bloodworks Northwest president & CEO Dr. James P. AuBuchon addressed lawmakers and the largest network of non-profit community blood centers in the USA about the chronic shortages blood centers are facing at America’s Blood Centers Annual Meeting, March 23–26 in Washington, DC.
Bloodworks Northwest (formerly Puget Sound Blood Center), founded in 1944, headquartered in Seattle, is backed by 75 years of Northwest history and 250,000 donors. It is local, non-profit, independent, volunteer-supported and community-based. A recognized leader in transfusion medicine, Bloodworks serves patients in more than 90 hospitals in Washington, Oregon and Alaska states — partnering closely with local hospitals to deliver the highest level of patient care.
Comprehensive services include blood components, complex cross-matching, specialized lab services for organ transplants, care for patients with blood disorders, and collection of cord blood stem cells for cancer treatment. Bloodworks Research Institute performs leading-edge research in blood biology, transfusion medicine, blood storage and treatment of blood disorders. Patients with traumatic injuries, undergoing surgeries or organ transplantation, or receiving treatment for cancer and blood disorders all depend on Bloodworks’ services, expertise, laboratories and research.
According to Bloodworks Northwest shortages due to the current donor base aging out are making the maintenance of an adequate blood supply impossible, creating a national public health issue that is arguably on par with the opioid crisis.
On Capitol Hill, Dr. AuBuchon and others from Bloodworks Northwest brought Washington State congressional leaders up to speed on the challenges that need to be addressed in the US blood supply. On March 25, Dr. Giroir spoke of these issues at the meeting and also the efforts that are being made to reach younger donors, such as Bloodworks Northwest’s mobile app, which now has over 11,000 downloads, mostly millennials and first-time donors.
Later this year, after ten years heading Bloodworks Northwest, Dr. AuBuchon is retiring. At America’s Blood Centers Annual Meeting Dr. AuBuchon received the Bill Coenen President’s Award for lifetime achievement. Dr. AuBuchon has served as a member of the Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability of the US Department of Health and Human Services and has chaired the Biomedical Excellence for Safer Transfusion Collaborative, an international research group dedicated to improving transfusion. He is a past president of the AABB (formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks).