Cook County Health Celebrates 75th Anniversary of the World’s First Blood Bank
Cook County Residents Urged to Continue to Donate Blood

CHICAGO – The Cook County Health (CCH) announced the 75th Anniversary of the World’s First Blood Bank today. When Dr. Bernard Fantus started the first-ever blood bank on March 15, 1937 at Cook County Hospital, he was merely looking for a way to ensure that patients in dire need of a blood transfusion wouldn’t have to endure a frantic search to find a matching donor. Now, blood donations are made through Life Source Centers, and transfusions can be done in a matter of minutes.

“The 75th Anniversary of the County Hospital Blood Bank is just one example of the history behind this iconic organization,” said Dr. Ram Raju, CEO, Cook County Health. “This milestone also serves as a call to Cook County residents to continue to donate blood and help save lives.”

“We treat some of the most critically injured patients and we need the best resources possible,” said Dr. Andrew Dennis, Cook County Trauma Surgeon. “We count on the blood bank everyday to help transfusions happen quickly when someone’s life is on the line.”

“We are proud to commemorate what Dr. Fantus started 75 years ago and pleased to see how far blood banking has come and how much blood banking has made medicine more efficient,” said Dr. Sally Campbell-Lee, Illinois Association of Blood Banks.

Prior to Dr. Fantus coining the blood bank, a donor had to be on-site at the time of a blood transfusion. The phrase “blood bank” is used because it signifies the saving of blood in a “bank” from which “withdrawals” could be made. This laboratory became an asset in the treatment of surgical and medical emergencies at Cook County Hospital.

In 1936 there were 649 blood transfusions; after establishment of the Blood Bank there were 1354 transfusions one year later. Currently, Cook County Hospital uses 12,000 units of blood supplies annually. Blood supplies are used mostly in Surgery, the Trauma Unit, Oncology and Hematology departments.

Procedures that were formally very risky have become routine. Since then, countless lives have been saved thanks to the ready availability of blood and blood products.
CCH is joined alongside Life Source for blood donation purposes. Residents looking to donate can check 18 Life Source Donor Centers, 3 mobile unit supported sites in the Chicagoland area and several Mobile Blood Drives that travel throughout your community daily.
Anyone interested can donate once, twice, or many times a year. There are basic qualifications that every donor must meet in order to be eligible to give blood.
You are eligible to donate blood if you:
• Weigh at least 110 pounds.
• Are in good physical health.
• Are at least 17 years old (there is no upper age limit).
• Have not given blood in the past eight weeks (56 days).
• As of March 2, 2010 Life Source will no longer be deferring donors who received a tattoo after January 1, 2010 in a state that regulates its tattoo facilities. (Illinois is a regulated state.)
You are not eligible to donate blood if you:
• Have had hepatitis (not including childhood exposure).
• Are pregnant.
• Have ever tested positive for HIV, have engaged in high risk behavior, or have had intimate contact with anyone at risk for AIDS.