UAB and the American Red Cross have launched an ambitious campaign to make UAB self-sufficient within five years in collecting blood products for hospital use, and they hope employees will contribute significantly.

Marisa Marques, medical director of the hospital Transfusion Service, gave blood recently and encourages others to do the same.  

“Firefighters are everyday heroes, policemen are everyday heroes and blood donors are everyday heroes, too. It’s a wonderful way to do community service and show you care for other people at the same time,” says Marisa Marques, M.D., medical director of the hospital Transfusion Service. “This is as good as it gets — to be able to share your blood with your fellow citizens. And it stays right here and helps the people in our community.”

Officials hope to triple the amount of blood collected from the UAB community, and universitywide drives are planned, beginning in July, to appeal to faculty, students, staff and visitors.

“UAB uses an average 770 units of red blood cells each week to treat conditions such as major surgery, trauma, cancer, transplants and gastrointestinal bleeding,” says Michael Waldrum, M.D., CEO of UAB Hospital. “UAB is ranked in the top five of hospitals supplied by the Red Cross, making it one the nation’s largest users of blood products.”

More than 80 percent of the blood used in Jefferson County hospitals is collected elsewhere in the state or in other states.

Expanding employee outreach
“We are working on creating employee-recognition programs that encourage and reward employees who donate,” Waldrum says. “Our need is acute. This past year, UAB hospitals experienced a shortfall of more than 30,000 units between what was needed and what was collected on campus.”

Employees may donate by going to Jefferson Tower Room 229. The blood-donor room is open from noon to 6 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday. To make an appointment, call 996-7377.

Employees and others also can register online with the Red Cross at; enter sponsor code UAB to make an appointment.

Remember to bring a photo ID when donating blood.

New donor facility planned
Hospital officials hope a new state-of-the art donor facility scheduled to open this fall near the food court in the North Pavilion will help boost on-campus donation.

The new facility will have wireless Internet access, DVD players and monitors at each donor table, an on-line scheduling system for donors who wish to preplan their donation time and freshly baked cookies and muffins provided through an initiative with Sodexho, the North Pavilion Market operator. The room will have the ability to consolidate all Red Cross blood services, collecting whole blood, packed red blood cells, plasma and platelets.

Critical needs
“It is extremely important that we achieve self-sufficiency in blood collections,” says David Hoidal, chief executive officer of the UAB Health System.

“Alabama is forced to import nearly 20 percent of the blood used in our hospitals from other states, which raises the costs associated with collection and can potentially create critical shortages if the exporting states have a crisis of their own.”

UAB and Alabama faced such a crisis in January.

Devastating winter storms this year disrupted normal blood collection activities across the Midwest, drying up the surplus. UAB Hospital was forced to hold a series of urgent blood drives across campus to provide enough blood to maintain normal operations.

“That one-to-two week period in January was the most severe shortage we’ve experienced at UAB to my knowledge,” Marques says.

“We hope this new partnership with the Red Cross will ensure that soon we’ll be collecting enough blood locally to meet our needs and that we never again find ourselves in a similar situation.”