UCLA Blood and Platelet Center celebrates 40 years of saving patients' lives

Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

The UCLA Blood and Platelet Center has grown remarkably since accepting its first blood donation 40 years ago. Today, it’s the largest hospital-based donor center of its kind in the western United States.

“Thanks to our donors, we’re able to provide up to 80 percent of the blood products needed by patients at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and UCLA Health - Santa Monica Medical Center,” said Dr. Alyssa Ziman, medical director of transfusion medicine in the UCLA Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

But staff members at the 40 year-old center are no ready to say that’s good enough.

“It’s great that we’re able to provide the majority of blood products that our patients need. However, we’d like to provide 100 percent of the needed products — and that requires more donors,” said Fernando Gironas, operations supervisor at Ackerman Center, one of the center’s two donation centers. The other location is at 1045 Gayley Ave., a few blocks south of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

The center accepts whole-blood and platelet donations from employees, volunteers, families of patients and others in the community. UCLA policy allows employees to take two hours from their workday to donate blood or four hours to donate platelets (employees should first get their supervisors’ approval). Employees also can earn comp time for making donations.

“We try to make the donation process as easy and convenient as possible,” said David Anthony, the center’s manager. This includes having weekday hours from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., as well as Saturday hours. In addition, daily mobile blood drives are also held at various locations throughout the city.

 “Because we’re a hospital-based donor center, you know the blood product is going to be used specifically to help our patients,” says Gironas.

If that isn’t enough incentive, there are regular promotions to entice participants. In July, platelet donors received copies of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “All the Light We Cannot See,” signed by the author. Every month, donors will receive movie tickets in addition to raffles and other giveaways.

As soon as a renovation project at the Gayley Center is complete, the staff plans to host a grand-reopening and anniversary celebration. To learn more about becoming a donor, visit gotblood.ucla.edu or send an email to [email protected].

The original story is posted on the UCLA Health Employee News website.

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