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County Blood Drive celebrates 40 years of saving lives

On Tuesday, April 2, the county kicked off its 40th annual blood drive, an event that has grown to become one of the largest donor events of its kind in the region.

In partnership with the San Diego Blood Bank, the county this year has added two more sites, bringing the total to 24 locations where people can sign up to donate in April.

Last year, county employees donated 435 pints of blood, enough to save more than a thousand lives. This year’s goal is 501 pints of blood.

Each one-pint bag has the potential to help up to three people.

“The blood donated saves lives,” said Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Nora Vargas. “It is critically needed by those experiencing complications of childbirth, newborns in the NICU, persons with cancer, and those suffering traumas such as burns or serious accidents.”

Health and Human Services Agency Interim Director Dr. Eric McDonald, M.D., M.P.H., has seen the impact donors make in his professional, and personal, life.

“I got a phone call and knew in that moment my mother needed to get to a hospital immediately,” McDonald said. “Those doctors and the blood transfusion she received made it possible for her to be with us today.”

As an emergency physician, McDonald knows how critical it is to have a diverse supply of blood.

“Certain blood types and surface proteins are unique to specific groups,” he said. “Matching your ethnic background to a donor can lessen the likelihood of a reaction from a blood transfusion.”

To champion expanded blood donations, the County and Blood Bank three years ago created the Community Guardians Program.

In the last two years, 12 Live Well San Diego partner organizations have joined the Community Guardians Program, stepping up to promote donations.

“Our partners at San Ysidro health hosted blood drives in their San Ysidro and El Cajon locations, collecting over 100 pints of blood in San Diego’s most diverse communities,” County Assistant Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Tuteur, M.D. said. “The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, engaged, educated, and motivated their 2,500 members and more than 300,000 employees to donate blood. We appreciate everyone’s support and welcome more organizations to sign on as partners.”

The Blood Bank said it faces pressures daily to meet the local need for blood.

“The San Diego Blood Bank currently is low on most types and must collect more than 350 pints of blood every day just to meet our region’s growing need for blood and blood products,” said San Diego Blood Bank CEO Doug Morton.

Everyone is welcome, including non-county employees, to sign up to donate.

Editor’s Note: The Fallbrook blood drive was held Monday, April 8; this press release was received Friday, April 5. For blood drive dates and locations in other parts of the county, visit


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