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The San Diego Blood Bank Putting Greater Focus On Research

February 14, 2017 1:19 p.m.

The San Diego Blood Bank Putting Greater Focus On Research

GUEST:

David Wellis, chief executive officer, San Diego Blood Bank

Related Story: The San Diego Blood Bank Putting Greater Focus On Research

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

On this Valentine's Day the San Diego blood bank will be asking for San Diego and's to give a gift to the heart and donate blood. As reported in the union Tribune the blood bank does a lot more the states that collect and store blood donations. It is gathering blood cells and customizing blood products I'll to diversify and keep the blood bank driving. 20 me if -- joining me as chief executive officer of the San Diego blood bank.
Thank you for having me.
Why are they doing marmot specialized blood products?
It all comes down to our mission and I needed -- and the need for blood. What's been happening is a decline in utilization of red blood cells. When you donate a pint of blood hospitals are using less. For a number of reasons and not anything that I can actually argue with. Hospitals are of course very sensitive to the cost. A cost to a hospital is the blood that we provide as a service to the hospitals. They are looking at any potential wastage and they are ordering less blood which is good. We do not want to be wasted we want to be good stewards of what we collect. There are better surgical procedures some are endoscopic type surgeries unless glass during certain procedures. There is more and more clinical data to suggest that the practice of topping off a patient during surgery may cause more harm than good.
Please explain topping off.
You are in surgery and have been transfused unfortunately that an accident or trauma and you have received blood as a transfusion and there was this practice of let's give them one more unit before we put them out in the intensive care unit are in recovery and they are finding pinnacle outcomes are not better and in some cases are worse with that practice. So they are stopping kind of doing that. For those reasons we cannot argue the decline in the use of blood. When the market changes the market needs to evolve and change as well.'s
What types of materials to collect for this lab and clinical trials?
It can be anything from what we call a fifth -- one extra tube of blood on top of a normal blood donation and that Cuba led we work with a number of diagnostic companies that want to validate their diagnostic test against normal and control samples. Our Donna population is pretty healthy and pretty interesting so one of these therapies is cord blood and bone marrow transplantation. So somebody that has had a blood-borne cancer and chemotherapy knocks out the immune system you can actually replace those blood making cells with a bone marrow transplant. That is cell therapy. We have been doing it for decades now we are expanding into areas such as prostate cancer and melanoma so we are collecting these rare cells and we have enhanced the wet lab capabilities and we process them and test them and provide them back to the biotech and pharmaceutical companies that we work with the matron that into real cell therapy. Everything from a tube of blood to my sophisticated cell manipulation.
Because of this new idea about surgical procedures that are less invasive and using less blood than they used to for transfusion do you now have a full supply of blood for hospitals to be able to use.
At the very moment as of today as a look at the same store utilization of it is slowly trending down so if you pick one and look at utilization is trended down still our core business is providing blood for hospitals and we have been very successful in San Diego orange County and Los Angeles markets now so the number of hospitals that we provide is going up so it's happening is the need for blood is increasing because we are gaining my hospital contracts and we are saving more patient lives in a larger area even up in Orange County and Los Angeles now we are operating in Southern California blood bank.
So you are extending with your blood mobiles as well.
We operate within Hoke hospitals. There's a donor center there and we are just in the process of moving to a larger facility and located one of our blood mobiles up in the Orange County area so we are doing drives five days a week up there.
So San Diego is at the forefront of this industry. Do you foresee a time when perhaps the core part of the business is not providing blood for surgeries and transfusions but rather providing these blood products for clinical trials and research laboratories.
They go hand-in-hand. There's no substitute for human blood. Has been worked on for decades everything from cell culture to article based substitutes. There is no imitation blood and substitute for blood. We will always have to collect blood. My guess is that utilization will continue to trend down but it is still the majority of our revenue as a blood bank. The diversified activities and research and health and wellness pass as well will become a greater and greater portion of our overall business. The need for blood will not go away. That's a very strategic Western because you think how large should we get? Should we continue to arch up state and go east or just continue on the or business or do we stop at some point and put more effort into the higher-margin diversified revenue opportunities all incidents of making sure that we are thriving and sustaining ourselves responsibly for the community.
So right now the messages still give what.
Across the nation as utilization has declined blood centers have right sized to that the client. The pendulum swung a little too far so this summer and blood supply without a decade slow this past summer. There is always the need for donation because there is no substitute. Because we are growing.
Thank you so much.