DARKE COUNTY — The Community Blood Center was the first regional blood bank in the Dayton area, and they opened their doors 50 years ago, Sept. 14, 1964.
Before this time, it wasn’t certain that area hospitals would have the blood supply they required for patients facing major surgery, or even a traumatic injury, which is unheard of today.
The founders of the CBC, Dr. Ludolph H. van der Hoeven of Good Samaritan Hospital, Dr. James W. Funkhouser of Miami Valley Hospital, and non-founder Dr. Ross H. Seasly of Kettering Hospital, served as the original medical directors; Dr. van der Hoeven has outlived his colleagues, at the age of 95, but he remembered the decision with “absolute clarity.”
“We said it. And we did it. We saw it through,” Dr. van der Hoeven said. “The crowning jewel is that we got hospitals to work together. Hospitals are competitive — they cannot agree. But in this instance, we got them to work together, which is a major diplomatic achievement.”
The Medical Society of Montgomery County appointed the study committee with the ultimate goal of establishing a central blood bank to serve the greater Dayton area. At the time, in the early 1960s, hospitals largely operated their own blood banks, and supply could “fluctuate wildly,” a CBC representative stated. In extreme cases, family members might have been asked to donate on the spot, they added. Hospitals struggled to meet demand by trading blood units back and forth, using cumbersome communications and record keeping.
On Sept. 14, 1964, the first ever blood donation was made to the Dayton CBC by Barbara Bartley of Dayton. Bartley told the media at the time that she had learned of the importance of blood donation a year earlier, when friends and family were called upon to donate 25 pints of blood for her husband’s open heart surgery.
“It’s one way I can help someone else,” Bartley said.
In just over a year, CBC drew 11,000 units of blood from 8,000 donors; staff grew to accommodate the influx of donors, from four to 24, and by October 1965 CBC was averaging 1,200 donors a month.
“Those numbers are now dwarfed by CBC’s modern blood services standard,” a representative stated. “In 2013, CBC collected 68,713 red cell donations and saw apheresis donations grow to 8,552, for a total of more than 103,000 transfusions.”
Community Blood Center supplies blood products to 25 partner hospitals in the Dayton region, which is a 15-county service area including Ohio and Indiana. Community Tissue Services (CTS), opened in 1986 as the Dayton Regional Tissue Bank, serves the original vision for the CBC to include tissue services. Together, CBC and CTS have 572 employees.
And while CBC celebrates the last 50 years, they’re looking to the future and focusing on the exciting challenges that are yet to come.
“Clearly in the future we will continue to do things we do today,” said Dr. David Smith, CBC/CTS chief executive officer. “Provide blood products locally to hospitals and patients in our communities and tissues to patients nationwide and internationally. We will also leverage our 100-plus years of combined blood and tissue expertise as we move into the future of new, human-derived transplantable products and services for patients and other customers.”