Blood Science Foundation to shine light on Pittsburgh's shortage of blood donors

Tuesday, March 26, 2019 General News
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$200,000 in grants from Highmark Foundation and UPMC fund awareness effort by regional blood bank

PITTSBURGH, March 26, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Each day, the greater Pittsburgh region's

number of blood donors is at about half of the level required to meet the needs of our health care organizations. To make up for this shortfall, Vitalant (formerly known as Central Blood Bank) must import blood from outside the area at significant costs.  

"The blood donor shortfall in western Pennsylvania directly impacts the area's cost of care and could impact our world-renowned health care systems' abilities to provide life-saving patient care," said Mark Giaquinto, president and chief financial officer, Blood Science Foundation.

To meet this significant challenge, the Blood Science Foundation has received the support of Highmark Foundation and UPMC. The Highmark Foundation and UPMC are each providing a $100,000 grant to support a regionwide awareness and education campaign to increase the number of blood donors and blood donations.

"There is an immediate need to educate everyone that the declining donor base is becoming a public health issue that must be solved. We cannot do it alone," said Charlie Wilcox, Northeast division president, Vitalant. "It takes blood drive sponsors and blood donors providing 450 blood donations every day to meet our communities' blood needs.  We must sustain this level of donation on an ongoing basis so the appropriate amount of blood is available well before a disaster."

Wilcox added that roughly one-third fewer people actively donate blood today compared with five years ago in the western Pennsylvania region.

"Our mission at the Highmark Foundation is to improve the health, well-being, and quality of life of our communities," said Yvonne Cook, president, Highmark Foundation. "Having an adequate blood supply is one of those critical cornerstones that leads to a healthier community. A robust, safe and accessible blood supply is vital to the health and wellness of all of us.  We are proud to support the Blood Science Foundation and this important initiative."

"UPMC is deeply rooted in its respective communities, and part of our mission is to provide programs and services that support community health," said Leslie Davis, UPMC senior vice president, and executive vice president and chief operating officer, UPMC Health Services Division.  "The region's blood supply is a life-saving gift, and we must educate people that blood donation is not a one-time event or a one-time-a-year need."

The awareness campaign is set to launch this year.

About Blood Science FoundationBlood Science Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Vitalant's blood bank operations in Pittsburgh (formerly Central Blood Bank) and Chicago. Vitalant (formerly Blood Systems, Inc.) is the largest independent blood organization in the nation. Through fundraising and public education efforts, Blood Science Foundation supports the life-saving mission of these blood banks – to provide an adequate blood supply to their hospital and health care customers so doctors can perform surgeries, treat critically injured patients and help others fight diseases. Blood Science Foundation also funds vital research aimed at curing blood-related diseases and ensuring a safe blood supply. For more information, visit

About Highmark Foundation

The Highmark Foundation is a 501(c)(3) private, charitable organization dedicated to improving the health, well-being, and quality of life for individuals and communities throughout the areas served by Highmark Inc. and its subsidiaries and affiliates. We fulfill our mission by awarding high-impact grants to charitable organizations that implement evidence-based programs aimed at improving community health.  Central to the Foundation's mission is identifying and continuously re-evaluation our region's prevailing health care needs. By doing so, the Foundation remains at the forefront of those needs, well equipped to pinpoint issues that most urgently need support. Visit the Highmark Foundation at

About UPMC

A $19 billion world-renowned health care provider and insurer, Pittsburgh-based UPMC is inventing new models of patient-centered, cost-effective, accountable care. UPMC provides more than $900 million a year in benefits to its communities, including more care to the region's most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution. The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates 87,000 employees, 40 hospitals, 700 doctors' offices and outpatient sites, and a 3.5 million-member Insurance Services Division, the largest medical insurer in western Pennsylvania. As UPMC works in close collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside on its annual Honor Roll of America's Best Hospitals. UPMC Enterprises functions as the innovation and commercialization arm of UPMC, and UPMC International provides hands-on health care and management services with partners around the world. For more information, go to

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SOURCE Blood Science Foundation

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