Many people rarely think about their blood type — most don’t even know their blood type. But if that “type” were to go missing in everyday life, people would start to pay closer attention to the need for blood. That’s why this August, blood centers around the world including Stanford Blood Center (SBC) will be removing the letters A, B and O (the blood groups) from places of high interest, hoping to create engagement and awareness of the importance of giving blood.
As the Fourth of July nears, Stanford Blood Center (SBC) takes time to reflect on the fact that the holiday is not just a time for celebrating, but also a time to remember all that veterans have done for this country.
SBC is proud to support The VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) — including the Palo Alto and Livermore inpatient facilities — by being the sole provider of much needed blood products used to treat patients. SBC has been partnering with the VA for almost 20 years, since 1997, and provides over 2,000 blood products annually to the two locations.
We want you to know ahead of time that we are making temporary modifications to our center hours of operation.
Starting Monday, February 8, 2016 we will be instituting new appointment schedules at all three center locations. This temporary change will allow us to provide satisfactory customer service while we hire more staff to be in alignment with the expected increase in blood donations over the next one to two years.
In some instances, particularly for apheresis donors, it may be difficult to schedule regular appointment times that were available in the past, due to the reduction in operational hours and appointment slots. We recognize this inconvenience. Please know that this effort will improve the overall operation in the long term, and we ask that you bear with us as we go through this temporary period of recalibrating our operation and prepare for a gradual expansion.
If you are usually a walk-in donor, we encourage you to make an appointment; appointments will be honored and we may not be able to accept all walk-ins on the day of your visit.
If you have an appointment affected by the changes, you will receive an email with instructions.
See our updated hours page for the new schedules, which start on Monday, 2/8/2016.
We will keep donors updated on our progress, including when we anticipate increasing appointment slots. We apologize for this inconvenience and thank you in advance for your patience while we make this temporary change. We look forward to another year of saving lives with our donors!
By Dayna Kereceman Myers
Whether you’re looking to cozy up to some good books to help fill the last few days of your winter vacation or keep you company on your trip home, you want to learn more about blood donation, or you need a little New Year’s inspiration, here is a selection of books that relate to blood, medicine, or altruism. We think these choices might hold special appeal to blood donors—a compassionate and thoughtful crowd, by nature.
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
By Siddhartha Mukherjee, Scribner: 2011
This sweeping Pulitzer-Prize winning history of cancer from oncologist and researcher (and Stanford graduate) Siddhartha Mukherjee goes back thousands of years. Mukherjee tells the story of cancer from its first known description in ancient Egypt through the ups and downs of efforts to develop treatments. While there is still no magic bullet for cancer, Mukherjee offers compassion for the many people affected by cancer and hope nested within potential therapies of the future. Now, there is also a Ken Burns documentary on PBS based on the novel.
By Cameron Conaway, Michigan State University Press: 2014
In the western world, it is perhaps too easy to forget how many lives malaria still steals each year—nearly one million people each year. Award-winning poet Cameron Conaway intertwines the art of poetry with sobering detail about the pain caused by this disease and social commentary to reawaken the compassion needed to fight this scourge.
Blood: The Stuff of Life (CBC Massey Lectures)
By Lawrence Hill, House of Anansi Press: 2013
With this hard-to-categorize book—part medical history, part memoir, part-social commentary—best-selling Canadian author Lawrence Hill explores in fascinating detail the medical and cultural significance of blood. He covers everything from the life-giving nature of blood, to bloodborne diseases, to blood’s role in race, culture and ethnicity.
And the Band Played On
By Randy Shilts, St. Martin’s Griffin, Revised edition: 2007
This best-seller from investigative reporter Randy Shilts, originally published in 1987, painstakingly traces the history of HIV/AIDS in the US. Shilts explores the painful reasons why it took so long for the nation to wake up to the crisis—lessons that should not be forgotten even as we enter a new era of hope that advanced treatment options could finally end the epidemic. For related reading, to understand the role that Stanford Blood Center’s Chair, Dr. Edgar Engleman played in protecting the blood supply during the early years of the AIDS crisis, read Blood Quest: The Battle to Protect Transfusions from HIV in Stanford Medicine Magazine’s special issue on blood, from Spring 2013.
The History of Blood Transfusion in Sub-Saharan Africa
By William H. Schneider, Ohio University Press: 2013
If you’re interested in the little-studied history of transfusion medicine overseas, here is the first history of the practice in sub-Saharan Africa, meticulously researched and written by a history professor at Indiana University-Purdue University. Schneider traces the introduction of transfusions during the era of colonial rule through the rise of the AIDS epidemic on the continent.
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
By Atul Gawande, Metropolitan Books: 2014
Through his eloquent writing and riveting examples, noted author and surgeon Atul Gawanda compels us to stop looking away from some of the most difficult questions we all ultimately will face about aging, dying, and the limits of medicine. His exploration of what well-being ultimately means adds another masterpiece of ethical inquiry to add to his previous works, including Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance from 2008.
By Oliver Sacks, Knopf: 2015
The world lost a great and gentle spirit when Oliver Sacks died this past August, but his books offer a lasting legacy of insights into the human mind and the force of humanity. Gratitude is a collection of essays written by Sacks during the last months of his life, as he struggled with cancer and came to terms with his death and marveled over the gift of life. For insights into the forces and vulnerabilities that shaped him, you also might be interested in Sacks’s memoir, On the Move: A Life, a. (Knopf, 2015).
Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World
By Matthieu Ricard, Little, Brown and Company; Tra edition: 2015
Ricard, a PhD in cellular genetics from the Institut Pasteur in Paris, left that world behind to become a Buddhist monk and best-selling author of books including Happiness. Now, he shifts his focus to altruism, arguing that altruism is vital to addressing the greatest challenges of our time. As Jane Goodall, UN Messenger of Peace, comments in a review: “Altruism is just what is needed to bring hope to those depressed by the violence, war, selfishness and corruption that surround us today.”
The Small Big: Small Changes That Spark Big Influence
By Steve J. Martin, Noah J. Goldstein and Robert B. Cialdini, Grand Central Publishing: 2014
Many SBC blood donors ask how they can help encourage friends and family to become donors. This fun book explores the art and science of persuasion—with ideas to motivate people to act for the greater good—whether it’s paying their taxes, obeying traffic laws, building relationships, or going against the crowd. The authors offer some simple yet powerful techniques that might just help encourage more people in our community to make an appointment at SBC and become regular blood donors
By Dayna Kerecman Myers
The American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (ASHI) has honored two Stanford leaders in the field, Dolly Tyan, PhD, D(ABHI) and Marcelo Fernández-Viña, PhD, D(ABHI), with awards recognizing their significant contributions to the fields of transplantation, histocompatibility and immunogenetics.
The Paul I. Terasaki Clinical Science Award
Dr. Tyan, a Professor of Pathology at the Stanford University Medical Center and co-director of the Stanford University Histocompatibility, Immunogenetics & Disease Profiling Laboratory, has devoted her career to understanding HLA antibodies and developing cutting-edge therapies and testing systems that have given hope to patients in need of organ transplants but historically the least likely to get them.
Patients with kidney failure, for example, know that it can be a long and difficult road to find a compatible transplant donor. But for about a third of all candidates, a transplant is very unlikely because these patients have highly sensitized immune systems that would reject a kidney from a wide range of potential donors. These patients have acquired extra strong antibodies to the human leukocyte antigens (HLA) found on donor organs, either from blood transfusions, pregnancies or from a previous transplant. These antibodies would kill the cells of the potential donors, because the function of these antibodies is to destroy foreign invaders.
Dr. Tyan pioneered the development and clinical adaptation of using high-dose intravenous immunoglobulin (known as IVIG therapy) to lower high levels of HLA antibodies in patients awaiting solid organ transplants, thereby facilitating successful transplants with organs previously considered incompatible. This therapy opens up the possibility of a transplant for people previously considered poor transplant candidates. Dr. Tyan, together with Dr. Ge Chen, also developed a test, known as the C1q antibody test, which helps distinguish the antibodies that are likely to contribute to organ rejection from those that appear to be less harmful.
“The development of both the IVIG therapy and the C1q assay were the result of serendipity, followed by innovation, perseverance, and eventual successful translation to the clinical setting to help these sometimes desperate patients. It is incredibly gratifying to know that patients, who otherwise would not have a chance for a transplant and a normal life, are rescued by the therapies and testing methods that we have been privileged to be part of developing,” said Dr. Tyan.
The award, established in 2003, was made possible by a grant from the Paul I. Terasaki Foundation. Paul I. Terasaki, professor emeritus of surgery at UCLA School of Medicine, established UCLA’s HLA laboratory and is one of the pre-eminent pioneers in the HLA field.
Distinguished Scientist Award
Dr. Marcelo Fernández-Viña, PhD, D(ABHI), a Professor for the Department of Pathology at Stanford University Medical School and Co-Director of the Stanford University Histocompatibility, Immunogenetics & Disease Profiling Laboratory, also earned recognition from
ASHI for his significant contributions to the field of immunogenetics and transplant immunology. He is the winner of ASHI’s 2015 Distinguished Scientist Award.
Dr. Fernández-Viña, who earned a degree in Biochemistry from the School of Basic Sciences in Rosario, Argentina, and his PhD in Internal Medicine from the University of Buenos Aires Medical School in Argentina, has been active in the fields of Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics since 1982. Much of his career, he has focused on HLA variation in different populations around the world, identifying susceptibility and resistance factors for diseases. He also specializes in the impact of HLA mismatches in bone marrow transplants.
He has looked extensively at population genetics and the worldwide distribution of antigens for clues to help patients who need bone marrow transplants — particularly people who have difficulty finding a match for a bone marrow transplant. His research has improved understanding of donors known as “tolerable mismatches” — donors who, when an ideal perfect match in the donor pool cannot be found, are likely to be better tolerated — e.g., the tissue is less likely to be rejected.
The next frontier in the field, Dr. Fernández-Viña said, is refining the identification of acceptable mismatches, and developing and applying tests that may help us monitor events that could result in the rejection of a transplant or other adverse events.
It’s a field characterized by the constant development of new technology, and as Dr. Fernández-Viña puts it, “We’re constantly seeking to answer old, recurring questions with new technology.” For example, through the introduction of next-generation sequencing and applying these methods to HLA typing, it is possible to identify variants that couldn’t be identified with the old techniques.
ASHI’s scientific review panel singled out Dr. Fernández-Viña for this award in large part because his scholarship and his life’s work have helped so many patients in need.
As for his inspiration for joining this field, Dr. Fernández-Viña recalls that even in the early years of high school, he used to read a lot of Dr. Albert Schweitzer. He was taken by Schweitzer’s devotion to improving the health of everybody and especially people in Africa. Dr. Louis Pasteur, for his work conducting human research to tackle really important problems, inspired him as well. While still in Argentina, he also read a lot about Karl Landsteiner’s work on distinguishing the major blood groups. While the field of compatibility was not well developed then, in the late 1970s and 80s, Landsteiner’s findings on blood groups helped inform Dr. Fernández-Viña’s work in compatibility later on. Stanford has a great history in this field, Dr. Fernández-Viña emphasized, pointing as well to Rose Payne as another pioneer in the field.
And now, the ASHI Distinguished Scientist Award honors Dr. Fernández-Viña for his own vast contributions to the field. Of ASHI, Dr. Fernández-Viña said, “It’s a great organization, on both professional and scientific levels. It’s a society that encourages personal scientific growth, while also serving to advance the field. ASHI also offers a forum for scientists to discuss their work — and it embraces each and everyone with interest in the field — from technologists working in the lab, to the directors.”
Among Dr. Fernández-Viña’s lengthy list of accomplishments, he has published in over 170 peer-reviewed publications and contributed chapters to 59 books. Recently, the Secretary of Health and Human Services invited him to serve on the Advisory Council on Blood Stem Cell Transplantation (ACBSCT). He also served as expert Consultant for Donor Searches for NMDP and as President Elect, President and Past President of the Board of Directors of ASHI and on the Executive Committee for the United Network for Organ Sharing. Currently, he serves as the Liaison between the American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics to the National Marrow Donor Program.
Nancy Higgins, the chair of the ASHI Awards Committee, described the rigorous selection process for both awards. A scientific panel reviews each candidate, ultimately selecting the winners based on their contributions to HLA science and ASHI — through teaching, publications, and outreach. Both Dr. Tyan and Dr. Fernández-Viña have done so much in both areas, Higgins said, and they are also both so good at giving back, making them a natural choice for the honors.
ASHI is an international society of professionals dedicated to advancing the science, education and application of immunogenetics and transplant immunology. Its vision is to improve the quality of human life and health through the translation and implementation of scientific innovations to clinical practice—principles that Dr. Tyan and Dr. Fernández-Viña embody every day.