Blood Bank Needs You
One of the many ways in which Alaska differs from the rest of the US, is that our blood supply is entirely dependent on the generosity of local blood donors and on the professionalism of a single local organization: the Blood Bank of Alaska, BBAK.
The BBAK, a non-profit organization with an all-volunteer board, is responsible for providing the blood and blood products for almost every medical facility in Alaska. This includes not only the large hospitals in Anchorage and Fairbanks but also the medical facilities on our military bases and most of the smaller hospitals and clinics spread across rural Alaska.
Blood and blood products are essential in modern medicine. The products provided by the BBAK are most often used to treat accident victims and heart and cancer patients but are also essential for the treatment of many other conditions. If you or a member of your family have ever received blood or blood products in Alaska, the blood that you received was almost certainly donated by one or more of your fellow Alaskans with the help of the BBAK.
The BBAK cannot, however, do this alone. Blood cannot be manufactured; it must be donated. Thirty-seven percent of the American population are eligible to give blood, but only 8% do. In Alaska, we depend upon a small number of dedicated volunteers to provide the blood for the State as a whole.
Those volunteers are precious to all of us here in Alaska and more are needed. We need donors to replace those who are no longer able to donate. We need donors to ensure we have volunteers in the event of a disaster. We need donors who reflect the diversity of our community so that the blood that is donated matches as closely as possible the blood that we need.
I invite you to visit the new blood center in Airport Heights and to consider giving blood if you’ve never done so. It will cost you nothing but time and, as a regular blood donor, I can assure you that the level of personal satisfaction is considerable and gratifying.
Dr. Ian Van Tets is currently serving as the Board Chair of the Blood Bank of Alaska. He is an Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at UAA and has an affiliate appointment with the Alaska WWAMI School of Medical Education (Alaska’s Medical School).