The landscape of blood donation, collection, testing, and distribution have changed dramatically. Blood Science Foundation continues to work with Vitalant operations in Pittsburgh (formerly Central Blood Bank) and Illinois (formerly LifeSource) and other subsidiaries to ensure these changes do not disrupt the life-saving services they provide. But the current model alone can no longer sustain Vitalant’s vital work, nor the level of investment in community outreach, education, innovative programs, and groundbreaking research that Chicagoland and Pittsburgh — and its tri-state service areas, including parts of West Virginia and Ohio, need and deserve.
What We Support
At just 3 months old, Kyrie was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy — a rare disease that affects just 1 in every 100,000 children in the United States. Kyrie’s left ventricle was pumping faster than his right, causing the left side of his heart to enlarge and threaten his life. After a terrifying hospital stay where Kyrie’s mother, Montanna, had to watch her son go into cardiac arrest — resuscitated only by 10 minutes of CPR — it became clear that a heart transplant was their best option. But in order to undergo this intensive surgery, Kyrie wouldn’t just need an organ donor — he’d also need numerous blood transfusions.
“Blood transfusion is necessary for graft and organ survival,” says Transplant Nurse Coordinator Heidi Flanagan. “It’s critical to have a strong supply of all blood types ready for any surgery — but particularly for transplants. We never know when we’re going to have an organ made available for someone like Kyrie who’s been waiting, and whose life depends on a new heart.”
After Kyrie’s transplant surgery, Montanna was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. “I watched Kyrie perk all the way up after his transfusions… He was so pale and lethargic and it just all went away.”
Today Kyrie is a thriving toddler, and Montanna is a devoted blood and organ donor. “I would encourage anybody and everybody to give blood. If it wasn’t for organ and blood donations, Kyrie wouldn’t be here. I cherish every moment of his life, and I’m so thankful for the 6 blood donors who got us here today.”
Science & Research
Through patient-centered partnerships with major Universities in the communities we serve, the Blood Science Foundation creates opportunities for new and more effective treatments for blood disorders by donating $20 million to blood science research over the last 10 years, including:
• the quality of stored red blood cells
• reduction of drug dosages by labeling red blood cells (reduction in dosages leads to a reduction in negative side effects)
• lung complications from sickle cell anemia
• cord blood stem cells used to repopulate the bone marrow
Mark T. Gladwin, M.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Medicine
Director, Pittsburgh Heart, Lung, and Blood Vascular Medicine Institute (VMI)
University of Pittsburgh
“Generous support for translational research from ITxM and HCWP has propelled the University of Pittsburgh’s Vascular Medicine Institute to a leading position in blood transfusion and blood diseases research. Our research programs are developing new approaches to improve the safety of blood transfusions, specifically by identifying the genetics of red blood cell donors in an effort to identify normal common genetic variations that make blood safer and more effective after storage and transfusion.
We hope to identify donors whose blood should be used earlier or who are super donors whose blood may be stable longer in cold storage.”
Dr. Alan Russell
Highmark Distinguished Career Professor
Carnegie Mellon University
The Blood Science Foundation has been a long-time supporter of Dr. Alan Russell’s research program. Dr. Triulzi, Medical Director of the Institute for Transfusion Medicine and advisor to BSF, stated: “Dr. Russell is a top notch scientist and innovator looking for disruptive technologies in the healthcare arena. His research using red cells as a vehicle for biologics was a natural fit for BSF.”
“The Blood Science Foundation understood that finding the future for polymer-enhanced blood products would be a long-term journey that required focused support. They brought so much more than funding to the program. Their expertise guided our work and the funding accelerated the pace at which it would benefit society.”
What is Sickle Cell Disease?
Sickle cell disease (SCD) affects up to 100,000 Americans. You can help improve the lives of patients facing this disease.
It is one of the most commonly inherited blood disorders. In the United States, most people with SCD are African-American.
In fact, about one in every 365 African-American children is born with SCD.