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San Diego Blood Bank Partners With La Jolla Institute

Blood donations can save lives. They could also lead to a greater understanding of the immune system.

That’s the concept behind a new partnership between the San Diego Blood Bank and the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology.

People who donate to the Blood Bank will now be asked if they’d like to give a small portion of their blood to the Institute.

The Institute's chief operating officer, Steve Wilson, said the more blood samples researchers can get their hands on, the better. He said one area the Institute is exploring is known as immune profiling.

Immune profiling is about "how people have maintained immunity to something that they’ve seen in the distant past," Wilson explained. "Let’s say you were exposed to a disease and recovered. How did your immune system do that, and how is that memory retained?”

The Blood Bank's vice president of marketing, Robert Baracz, said donors are often told that a pint of blood can save three lives.

“But if you donate an extra tube of blood, it has potential to save thousands, or even millions of lives," Baracz said.

Blood Bank officials say the option to donate blood to the Institute is voluntary. They say donors’ privacy will be protected.