January 28, 2019

Survival rates for patients with blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma – diseases that not that long ago were considered all but incurable – have increased dramatically.

According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the five-year survival rates for patients diagnosed with leukemia from 1960-63 was just 14 percent. Fifty years later, it reached 61 percent.

For Hodgkin lymphoma, the five-year survival rate has gone from 40 percent to 88 percent. Five-year survival rates for non-Hodgkin lymphoma has also improved from 31 percent to 73 percent since the 1960s.

“I can’t help but be proud and gratified that I work for an organization that has helped improve the survival rate of blood cancers,” said Dr. Rachel Beddard, Chief Medical Officer at BioBridge Global.

January 21, 2019

Proposed new guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration have the potential to alter the way blood centers handle platelets destined for patients.

The draft guidance, “Bacterial Risk Control Strategies for Blood Collections Establishments and Transfusion Services to Enhance the Safety and Availability of Platelets for Transfusion,” would replace a draft guidance issued in March 2016.

The updated guidelines are designed to control the risk of bacterial contamination of room temperature platelets, said Dr. Samantha Gomez Ngamsuntikul, associate medical director at BioBridge Global. Platelets donations that are four or five days old are associated with a higher risk of negative reactions in patients.

January 14, 2019

At least a dozen people were hospitalized in 2019 for infections related to unapproved stem cell therapies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Patients in multiple states were injected with umbilical cord blood stem cells produced by a California company. One patient spent 58 days in the hospital with a bloodstream infection and spinal problems; another was hospitalized for 30 days with an infected knee The New York Times reported.

The CDC report noted that its investigation “highlights the serious potential risks to patients of stem cell therapies administered for unapproved and unproven uses.”

January 7, 2019

John Halloran, like many people in South Texas, began donating blood when he was in high school (in his case, Churchill).

But he didn’t become passionate about being a donor until his nephew was diagnosed with leukemia in 1987. By 1992, he was a regular at South Texas Blood & Tissue Center donor rooms and mobile drives.

“Because of both the need in the community and the history with my nephew, I began donating platelets,” he said. “It’s a journey that has lasted to this day.”

In 2018, Halloran topped 61 gallons in blood donations. And he will be adding to his total in January during National Blood Donor Month, which recognizes the extraordinary efforts of blood donors across the nation and serves as a reminder for others to give.

December 24, 2018

As the year comes to a close, here are the top 10 stories that happened in BioBridge Global and its family of nonprofits that include the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, QualTex Laboratories, GenCure and The Blood and Tissue Center Foundation.