Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center has experienced steady growth as it has adjusted to changes within the industry over the last four decades. MVRBC is a not-for-profit organization that was established to bring the concept of shared blood services to life in the Quad Cities region. By uniting the Rock Island County, Illinois and Scott County, Iowa blood banks our founders helped the community work together toward a common goal: a safe, plentiful supply of blood for patients in local hospitals.
On a national level, the first blood centers were founded in the 1940s, primarily in response to the need for component technology and storage to support the War effort. The first regulations were introduced through the National Institutes of Health, and in 1947 the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) was founded just as many local communities were developing their own community blood centers.
MVRBC was founded in the mid-1970s, a decade that saw a major shift in blood banking culture toward tightly controlled, process-oriented regulations, and away from biologic, hospital-based control. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations for current Good Manufacturing Practices were promulgated, along with a separation of blood products into those derived from volunteer and paid donors. A total of 17,000 post-transfusion cases of hepatitis were reported, and the first hepatitis test was introduced.
In 1974, the National Blood Policy was developed to assure a safe and adequate blood supply. The policy encouraged “regionalization” of the blood supply, utilizing the community blood center as a model. It also phased out the paid donor system and established a private-sector group, called the American Blood Commission, to oversee activities in blood collection. This Commission held a unique position as a private voluntary association charged with implementing public policy.
At MVRBC, significant policy changes include elimination of the Family Plan and replacement fees for blood. Mobile operations were also initiated, with the John Deere Foundry sponsoring the first drive in 1975. The Blood Center moved to a headquarters facility on Locust Street in Davenport in 1976, providing the new organization with sufficient space to accommodate growth in the coming years.
The 1980s brought new challenges for blood centers nationwide as the industry addressed the AIDS crisis. New donor screening measures and testing for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus were instituted. Meanwhile, media reports on cases of HIV transmission by blood transfusion contributed to public fears and misconceptions about the possibility of contracting HIV by giving blood.
Fear of AIDS caused a reduction in donations and started a downward trend in blood usage. The FDA increasingly began to set policy, and the American Blood Commission lost its authority and influence amidst the AIDS crisis. Nationally, lawsuits began to expose weaknesses in protection from strict liability, and the blood banking industry found itself in a firestorm of criticism, accusations of negligence, and profiteering at the expense of patients.
During this decade, MVRBC began blood collection automation, with the introduction of apheresis technology to collect platelets and plasma, but temporarily discontinued the practice in 1982 because of cost constraints. (Today, automated apheresis donations are central to the Blood Center’s ability to meet patient need.)
In the wake of controversy about the blood supply in the 1980s, regulatory oversight increased significantly. As new tests and processes were developed (increasing safety and also cost), community blood centers began to trend more strongly towards consolidation. MVRBC experienced the impact of this trend by adding new hospitals and territory through the 1990s and beyond. In 2001, MVRBC merged with the Southeast Iowa Blood Center, based in Ottumwa, Iowa.
Also that year, MVRBC became the first blood center in the nation to implement an interactive video donor screening system, called the Quality Donor System® (QDS). Utilizing a recorded questionnaire and touch-screen computers, the system provides donors a higher degree of privacy in the donor screening process.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 led to a spike in donations nationwide as millions of Americans responded to the crisis by giving blood. MVRBC joined independent community blood centers across the country in asking blood donors to postpone their donation by making an appointment in the weeks and months that followed 9/11. Managing donor flow in times of crisis remains an important issue as blood centers nationwide seek to educate donors that it is blood already “on the shelves” that makes a difference for victims of natural and man-made disasters.
With increasing military conflict in Afghanistan and the Middle East, MVRBC in 2002 was selected as one of six “hub” centers to supplement the military’s blood supply. The selection was the result of an agreement between the U.S. Department of Defense, the Armed Services Blood Program and America’s Blood Centers.
The same year, West Nile Virus wreaked havoc in the blood industry, when it was identified to be transmissible by blood transfusion. The industry moved rapidly, and within a year a Nucleic Acid Test was developed to detect for the presence of the virus. MVRBC’s NAT lab was selected as West Nile Virus test site.
The Blood Center moved to its current headquarters facility in 2004, the same year MVRBC Vice President of Medical Affairs, Dr. Louis Katz, assumed presidency of America’s Blood Centers for a two-year term. President & CEO Dave Green, was also named chairman of Blood Centers of America that year.
The Blood Center expanded its service region to include hospitals in and around St. Louis, Missouri in 2005. MVRBC’s St. Louis operations are based out of an administrative center in Earth City, Missouri, which also houses a reference laboratory that supports hospitals in developing a complete work-up for difficult samples and identifying appropriate matching blood for patients.
In 2007, MVRBC formed the “Give Blood, Share Life” collaboration with Mercy Medical Center and St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to increase community visibility, expand capacity and enhance product availability in the Cedar Rapids area.
Severe flooding in Eastern Iowa in June of 2008 led to a temporary decrease in donations and caused staff and volunteers to take long detours when traveling to blood drives or moving product through a region where many roads and bridges were closed for weeks at a time. Also in 2008, the Blood Center completed a successful fund raising campaign for a new bloodmobile and dedicated this new resource in August of 2008.
In July 2010, MVRBC merged operations with Central Illinois Community Blood Center, based in Springfield, Illinois.
In 2011, Community Blood Services of Illinois (CBSI) based in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, merged with MVRBC. CBSI now forms the Eastern Division of MVRBC and continues to supply all voluntarily donated blood used by patients at the community hospitals in Champaign-Urbana, Charleston-Mattoon, Danville and Effingham, Illinois.
In addition to its Davenport headquarters, the Blood Center has regional distribution hubs in central Illinois (Springfield, Ill., operating as Central Illinois Community Blood Center), eastern Illinois (Urbana, Ill., operating as Community Blood Services of Illinois); southeastern Iowa (Ottumwa, IA) and the St. Louis region (Maryland Heights, MO and Maryville, IL).
From these locations, MVRBC collects blood at 19 fixed site donor centers and at more than 4,000 mobile blood drives held each year. The population of the Blood Center’s service region exceeds 4-million residents and donors give more than 180,000 donations each year.
As MVRBC looks to the future, the Blood Center will move forward as it always has: remembering that patient care and hospital service is the basis for all we do, and working together with volunteer donors to provide a life-saving resource for communities in need.