With more than 312,036 miles and countless blood drives, it seemed like it was the end of the line for bloodmobile B-8.
But it’s not, as the 1993 Blue Bird is continuing her lifesaving mission south of the border. On Sept. 29, South Texas Blood & Tissue officially donated B-8 to the Global Blood Fund. The destination: Mexico City.
“This will be the first bus to go where it’s going [Mexico City,]” Martin Gomez, representative of GBF said. “They’ve never seen bloodmobiles in these places.”
The GBF helps poorer countries obtain sufficient, safe blood and has received millions in donations to improve blood availability and safety in the developing world.
Years of use
In her heyday, B-8 was at the forefront of STB&T’s mission. She’s pictured at countless events in the ‘90s, a growing time for the organization.
Two of B-8’s former drivers, Tony Piatt and Melodie Mongomery, came to say goodbye. They laughed, each reminiscing about hundreds of thousands of miles and years each of them accrued on the hulking bus.
“It was fun, and never a dull moment,” Montgomery said. “And always turn on Houston Street, and don’t hit the curb.”
Back then, phlebotomists had to have a commercial driver’s license in addition to a phlebotomy certification to drive vehicles like B-8, which posed a hiring challenge. Fortunately, times have changed, and having a CDL is no longer a requirement to drive such large vehicles.
“You drove with one hand, and stuck with the other,” Piatt joked.
According to Gomez, B-8 is going to be given the rockstar treatment south of the border. She’ll be repainted, refurbished and put to work.
This is not the first bus donation by STB&T. Three other mobile blood vehicles have been donated GBF in the past, each serving a purpose in Mexico, Gomez said. They were also given star treatment.
Everyone wants to use the bus, Gomez explains. But to do so, a drive must have at least 50 donors registered.
“When we do the grand presentation to the community, they bring the mayor, everyone’s there. Media goes in, and they have donors already ready to go,” Gomez said. “People can’t believe it. They don’t know that bloodmobiles exist.”