Our History Home » About Us » Our History Introductions A generation of Greenville citizens has grown up with The Blood Connection knowing blood will be available in an emergency – thanks to the support of the many donors in the Greenville and Upstate area. But it wasn’t always that way. In the early days of blood collecting, hospitals collected and processed blood for their own patients. Blood collecting rapidly progressed with World War II, creating a tremendous demand for blood products in the U.S. In 1947, the American Association of Blood Banks was organized to support blood research and develop standards of practice for blood banking. By 1948, the American Red Cross began operating a full-scale national program to collect and distribute blood. But in the greater Greenville area and surrounding counties, there was no centralized blood collection and distribution agency. Hospitals continued to collect their own blood. When patients needed blood, they had to rely on friends and relatives. If a patient had a rare blood type, the blood was likely not available. Fortunately, a group of community-minded physicians, hospital and civic leaders decided on a plan to serve the needs of patients in the community, ultimately saving lives in Greenville and the Upstate. Origins of The Blood Connection In 1962, the Greenville Blood Assurance Plan was formed to help supply the needs of Greenville County by recruiting volunteer blood donors for hospitals. The late Dr. E. Arthur “Art” Dreskin was the chief architect and medical director. Dreskin serviced the blood banking needs of our community for nearly 40 years, even serving as President of the American Association of Blood Banks in 1965. This Greenville Blood Assurance Plan was the area’s first coordinated effort to ‘connect’ blood donations to patients in need. This was the early beginning of what we know today as The Blood Connection. In 1973, the board of the Greenville Blood Assurance Plan began discussing the possibility of a regional blood program with hospitals, medical societies and concerned citizens in the neighboring counties. In 1977, a charter for the blood program was obtained, and a board of trustees (with representatives from the counties of Greenwood, Laurens, Abbeville, Greenville, Pickens and Oconee) was formed. A board committee named Gene A. Erickson as executive director. In 1978, The Greenville Blood Assurance Plan was officially merged into a new organization called Carolina Blood Center. Carolina Blood Center inherited one employee, office furniture for three offices, a ten-year-old blood mobile, and a fiscal deficit. Mr. Erickson developed a business plan, secured a line of credit, began hiring and training staff, and acquired used equipment and furniture. In order to raise necessary capital, each contract hospital agreed to pre-pay six months estimated blood service costs. A grand opening was held in 1979. With the opening of Carolina Blood Center, the area’s blood collection and distribution resources were now coordinated under one organization. Hospitals no longer had to call upon donors or buy blood from other sources. Carolina Blood Center created a central resource for collecting and processing blood and blood products, ensuring patients access to the total blood available in the region. The original plans for the blood center called for its own building. But since hospitals required service to begin immediately and funds were not available for land and construction, space at Morgan Manor Shopping Center on Pleasantburg Drive was rented as a temporary location. Accreditation was obtained from the American Association of Blood Banks, certifying that all administrative and technical procedures met or exceeded their rigorous standards. The Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration, granted a Federal License, which permitted licensed products to be distributed and used anywhere in the U. S. or abroad. During its first full year of service, Carolina Blood Center collected blood from 21,000 donors. In 1981, Hart County Hospital and Elbert County Hospital in Georgia joined the shared service program. But in 1996, their hospital pathology and laboratory service contracts required them to obtain blood supply services from another blood program. Meanwhile, Stephens County Hospital in Toccoa, Georgia, joined the shared service program in 1992, and Newberry County Memorial Hospital in Newberry, South Carolina, joined in 1995. The named changed over time The first name of the blood center was Carolina Blood Center, reflecting the service area at that time. But in 1981, when service was initiated for hospitals in Georgia, the name of the organization was changed to Carolina-Georgia Blood Center. In 2000, the board of trustees adopted the mission-oriented name, The Blood Connection (TBC). This name more accurately reflected the organization’s mission – to ensure an adequate, safe, and cost-effective blood supply for its healthcare partners. A “blood connection” network for the community The organization grew as the need for blood donations increased. On March 3, 1983, a ground-breaking ceremony was held for a one-story, 14,280 square foot blood center building. The building would sit on 2.3 acres on Grove Road in Greenville. The land would be leased for 25 years (and renewable for an additional 25 years) from the Greenville Hospital System. In 1984, The Blood Connection officially moved to 515 Grove Road. This housed not only a donation center but also the processing facilities. But donation services needed to be more accessible to the community. In 1985, a former doctor’s office was purchased across the street from Self Regional Hospital in Greenwood. With renovations, the office became a blood donation center for the Greenwood community. In 2003, construction was completed for a blood donation center in Seneca, followed by a renovation for a blood donation center in Easley. Over time, The Blood Connection outgrew its headquarters on the Greenville Hospital site. Construction of a new headquarters and biologics processing center was started in 2005. Construction of the building was completed in late 2006, and it was fully occupied by 2007. Plans for a new Greenville area donation center began in 2008 with construction and grand opening in March of 2010. The Grove Road location closed upon expiration of the leasing agreement with Greenville Memorial Hospital. How we complete our mission Since service began, The Blood Connection has met all area blood needs, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Hospitals have never had to postpone a surgery for lack of blood. By carefully monitoring blood inventory levels daily, TBC assures that all patient needs are met. Matching blood types of donors drawn with the needs of patients is often challenging. It is impossible to predict the blood type of a patient who will be wheeled through the emergency room door, require surgery, or need blood as part of cancer therapy. To help in times of need, The Blood Connection participates in the American Association of Blood Banks National Blood Exchange. There is also communication directly with other blood centers to ship and receive blood. Blood resource sharing helps major medical centers like the Medical College of Georgia whose patients come from many communities and whose local donor populations cannot contribute enough blood to meet all patient needs. Each day, The Blood Connection stands ready to ship blood and blood components to locations throughout the U. S. where blood deficits are occurring. In times of national crisis, such as the Persian Gulf War, The Blood Connection has provided needed blood for the U.S. Military Blood Services Program. Donors are informed that their blood donations may be used locally or to help save lives across the country. The important thing for donors to realize is that the needs of the patients in the hospitals regularly served by The Blood Connection are always met first. After meeting this priority, the perishable human resource (red blood cells 35-42 days, platelets 5 days) will be sent to other hospitals rather than expiring. We are grateful to all our blood donors for the “gifts of life” they so willingly share. What areas do we service? Approximately 1,656,824 people live in a 7,790 square mile area of Northwestern South Carolina, Western North Carolina and Northeastern Georgia that is the area in which The Blood Connection recruits and collects donors. South Carolina counties include Greenville, Spartanburg, Union, Cherokee, Pickens, Oconee, Greenwood, McCormick, Laurens, and Newberry. The Blood Connection also collects blood in Stephens County, Georgia and Polk, Henderson, Rutherford, and Buncombe Counties in North Carolina. Following is a list of The Blood Connection hospital partners: Asheville VA Medical Center, Baptist Easley Hospital, Greenville Memorial Hospital, Greer Memorial Hospital, Hillcrest Memorial Hospital, Pardee Hospital, Park Ridge Health, Patewood Memorial Hospital, Providence Hospital, Providence Hospital North East, Laurens County HealthCare System, Mary Black Memorial Hospital, Newberry County Memorial Hospital, Oconee Medical Hospital, Pardee Hospital, Park Ridge Health, Rutherford Regional Hospital, Self Regional Healthcare System, Shriner Hospitals for Children – Greenville, Spartanburg Regional Medical Center, St. Francis Hospital – Downtown, St. Francis Hospital – Eastside, St. Luke’s Hospital, Stephens County Hospital, Village Hospital at Pelham, and Wallace Thomson Hospital. The Blood Connection reaches blood donors in several ways: through bloodmobiles, portable field units, and fixed donation sites. Fixed site donation centers are located in Greenville, Greenwood, Easley, Seneca, Spartanburg, and Hendersonville. New fixed site centers are considered when donor support is established. What is The Blood Connection Today? The Blood Connection is a not-for-profit volunteer blood program, locally governed by a diverse volunteer board of trustees comprised of area business and civic leaders. The Blood Connection collects, processes and distributes biologic products and services (blood and blood components and related testing and processing services) for local and regional hospitals, as well as, for blood centers and hospitals having blood supply deficits elsewhere throughout the United States. Centralization of donor recruitment, blood collection and inventory management reduces waste, prevents delayed surgeries and provides efficiencies and economies of scale. Citizens are provided opportunities to contribute through a variety of blood donation programs such as whole blood donation, automated (apheresis) donation, autologous (self) donation, and patient-directed donation. It is through the commitment of volunteer donors that The Blood Connection is able to maintain its heritage of service to the community. Since opening in 1979, thousands of patients have received blood from The Blood Connection.