Rival blood banks vie for donors in Sonoma County

  • Bundled up against air conditioning, John Giampoli of Santa Rosa uses an ice pack to keep bruising to a minimum after donating platletts at Blood Centers of the Pacific, formerly Blood Bank of the Redwoods, Tuesday August 16, 2011 in Santa Rosa, at right is nurse assistant Jessica Ryan. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2011

Two new blood banks are looking for donors in Sonoma County, where Blood Bank of the Redwoods held sway for 63 years.

It's a sign of the times in the blood business, as rising costs drive consolidation and competition. Small community blood banks are disappearing, replaced by larger regional players.

Blood Bank of the Redwoods shut its doors last month, after six decades as the area's primary blood provider.

The Santa Rosa-based nonprofit agency was acquired by Blood Centers of the Pacific, a San Francisco blood bank that serves more than 50 hospitals in Northern California and is part of Blood Systems, the nation's second-largest nonprofit blood supplier.

With the acquisition, the San Francisco blood bank is now the sole source of blood for every hospital in Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties.

Three weeks ago, it opened a donation center in Santa Rosa, in the former headquarters of Blood Bank of the Redwoods.

"The donors who've given so faithfully over the years with Blood Bank of the Redwoods remain the backbone of the community blood program here," said Lisa Bloch, spokeswoman for Blood Centers of the Pacific.

The blood bank also is seeking new donors, offering a variety of incentives, she said.

"We plan to collect 1,500 blood donations every month to ensure we can provide the approximately 23,000 units of red cells that are needed by hospitals in Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties," Bloch said.

Meanwhile, another regional blood bank has started collecting blood in Sonoma County, with plans to open its own Santa Rosa donation center later this year.

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