When Dr. Bernard Fantus started the first-ever blood bank nearly 80 years ago at Cook County Hospital, he was 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, as blood could be safely stored for just a few days. Patients in those situations often expired before a match could be found. With the creation of the world’s first blood bank, individuals could make blood deposits for themselves or for the use of others as needed. Since then, countless lives have been saved, and the era of modern surgery was advanced due to the efforts of the visionary Dr. Fantus, who was a resident of Oak Park in the last 20 years of his life.

In March, 2012, the 75th Anniversary of the first blood bank and accomplishments of Dr. Fantus were celebrated by the Cook County Health & Hospitals System, in partnership with the Illinois Association of Blood Banks, at Stroger Hospital (formerly Cook County Hospital).

Dr. Fantus was recently added, where he joins other Oak Park residents such as scientist Dr. Percy Julian, astronaut Joseph Kerwin, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, author Ernest Hemingway, and others – to the ‘Wall of Fame’ at the Oak Park Village Hall.

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