South Texas Blood & Tissue Center joins nation’s first emergency blood reserve

Partnership of seven community blood centers launches blood emergency program in commemoration of 20th anniversary of 9/11

The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, a subsidiary of San Antonio nonprofit BioBridge Global, is helping to launch a first-in-the-nation partnership to ensure blood will be available in mass trauma situations and natural disasters. 

Blood centers have faced nationwide blood shortages as thousands of blood drives have been cancelled during the COVID-19 pandemic, straining the national safety net.  

While in the past, blood centers had inventory on hand to quickly share with other communities in a blood emergency, today this backup supply plan is increasingly unstable. As the primary blood supplier for the region, South Texas Blood & Tissue Center collaborated with other blood centers to create the new program to be proactive in emergency planning – both for mass trauma events that require large volumes of blood, and for natural disasters such as hurricanes that can cripple blood collections.

“The blood emergency program is an opportunity to engage socially minded individuals, community leaders and major employers to work with us and ensure blood is available in the case of mass trauma situations – whether that’s a major accident, a mass shooting such as Sutherland Springs, or a natural disaster such as a hurricane or the 2021 Texas ice storm,” said Adrienne Mendoza, Vice President, Blood Operations at the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center.

The Blood Emergency Readiness Corps is made up of blood centers from five states that have committed to collecting extra blood units on a rotating, “on-call” schedule. The extra blood products will be held in reserve for any critical-need scenario.

If no emergency situation arises, the blood products will be returned to South Texas Blood & Tissue Center’s general inventory, to be used for local needs.

“This is the first step in the right direction to being prepared for the unthinkable situation,” said Dr. Donald Jenkins, with UT Health/University Health System Trauma Care. “Being ready with a supply of blood for the communities is a great idea.”

The program includes the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, We Are Blood (serving the Austin area), Carter BloodCare (Dallas), Houchin Community Blood Bank (Southern California), Oklahoma Blood Institute, the Community Blood Center (Wisconsin), and Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank.

The announcement of the partnership came on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

“While it is a solemn occasion, recognizing 20 years since 9/11, it’s probably very appropriate that we have the recognition that we are still in this together,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said.

To schedule a blood donation visit SouthTexasBlood.org or call 210-731-5590. You also may call University Hospital’s donor center at 210-358-2812 or visit DonateBloodToday.com.