Memorial Blood Centers Steps Up to Respond to Emergency Blood Needs

Mar 28, 2011, 12:16 ET from Memorial Blood Centers

ST. PAUL, Minn., March 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Residents of northern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin now have more immediate access to life-saving blood in the event of a major accident thanks to a new partnership between Memorial Blood Centers, Minnesota's largest, independent, nonprofit blood center, and Life Link III, a ground and air medical transportation service. Beginning immediately, Memorial Blood Centers will provide Life Link III helicopter ambulance sites in Hibbing, Minnesota and Rice Lake, Wisconsin with Type O negative red blood cells—the "universal" type that can be safely transfused to any patient, regardless of the recipient's own blood type. Operating 24/7, Life Link III's first responders will have the blood they need to provide trauma-related emergency services both on-the-ground and in-flight, working with affiliate hospitals that include Hennepin County Medical Center, Fairview Health Services, Allina Hospitals and Clinics, Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Sacred Heart Hospital, Eau Claire, WI, St. Cloud Hospital/CentraCare Health System, and Duluth-based St. Luke's Hospital and Essentia Health.

"Whether the need is to transfuse blood at the scene or during helicopter transport to one of the affiliate hospitals, Memorial Blood Centers is excited to be involved in this new venture and to be the first blood center in Minnesota to provide this type of service," said Jed Gorlin, M.D., Medical Director.  "Only about 7% of the U.S. population is Type O negative, making this blood type both precious and in high demand. As a result, exclusively supplying Type O negative blood is a significant commitment for us, but one that is essential to ensure compatibility for all patients."

While accidents can happen anywhere, when they occur in rural communities longer transport times can mean the difference between life and death—a snowmobiler injured in the north woods, a victim of an auto accident on a remote country road, a deer hunter accidentally caught in the crossfire. Having blood at the scene diminishes the risk that the patient could bleed to death before arriving at the hospital. Memorial Blood Centers is joining forces with Life Link III and this non-profit consortium of Level I and Level II trauma centers to help quickly and safely reach those in need in the most distant locations with life-saving blood for transfusion.

Memorial Blood Centers has collaborated with Life Link III to provided extensive support during the planning process, including proper blood storage, and training for Life Link III staff to ensure that all standards and regulations, as required by the Food and Drug Administration, are followed, including those covering the proper handling, storing, and transfusing of blood products.

Life Link III plans currently call for expanding blood product availability to additional helicopter emergency sites in Alexandria, Hutchinson, and Anoka, in addition to the two initial launch sites in Hibbing, Minnesota and Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

About Memorial Blood Centers

Memorial Blood Centers has been saving lives for over 60 years as an independent nonprofit supplying life-saving blood to area hospitals and other partners throughout the U.S. Operating 11 donor centers and conducting hundreds of blood drives each month, Memorial Blood Centers also provides comprehensive testing and expert technical services as a national leader in transfusion medicine. For more information, call 888-GIVE-BLD or visit

About Life Link III

Life Link III provides 24/7 critical care, advanced life support and basic life support transportation for patients in Minnesota and throughout the U.S. via ground, helicopter, and airplane ambulances. Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the company operates an additional ground inter-facility and 911 base in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin.

SOURCE Memorial Blood Centers