In the 1970s, a group of Lions Club members in Murray, Ky. organized a fundraising effort to open an in-house blood bank at Murray-Calloway County Hospital, one of only two in the state of Kentucky. The center is still in place today, and offers numerous advantages to both MCCH and the community it serves.

The center offers a safe, FDA-approved in-house supply of blood to the hospital, making it fast and inexpensive for a patient to receive blood. Blood products can cost more than $600 per unit when ordered from outside blood banks. Having the donor center allows MCCH to save on the cost of some of these products and put those saved dollars toward other health care improvements. A hospital the size of MCCH goes through an average of 180-200 units of blood per month, and with a shelf life of 35 days, it is important to keep a steady supply of blood.

“The community support is very good,” said Beth Wiggins, donor recruiter. “We do regular drives at several businesses and churches, as well as the local high schools. Donors can also schedule a time to come in to our Blood Donation Center.”

Many local industries and churches make blood donation drives a part of their routine. The blood bank works with these companies and organizations to set up and facilitate the drives on a regular basis.

A unique benefit to covered patients who work at the participating companies or are members of participating churches is receiving units of blood free of charge when needed. Also, donors are able to apply trade credit from their donations to a friend or family member in need as a one-for-one exchange. Many patients facing surgery, mainly hip or knee replacement, can even bank their own blood to be used during their surgery.

“Having an in-house blood bank is a really good thing for the hospital. While some people don’t even know we’re here, we also have some very loyal donors. One has given almost 20 gallons of blood!” Wiggins said.

Just like any other blood center, the blood bank at MCCH is required to meet strict regulatory standards and is inspected frequently. In addition, each unit of blood is thoroughly tested for quality and safety.

For more information on the blood bank or to set up a donation, call 270.762.1119 or visit the donor center located on the first floor of the North Tower. To get to the center, enter through the West Entrance off Ninth Street and follow the posted signs.