2011 Bill T. Teague Lectureship Summary - May 19, 2011

Celso Bianco, MD Addresses the 15th Annual Bill T. Teague lectureship: Blood Safety: How Safe is Safe?

In his lecture "Blood Safety: How Safe is Safe?", Dr. Bianco focused on two questions: 1) Why did FDA and the blood bank community moved to a zero-risk policy, and 2) with the changes in healthcare and the state of the economy, will there be a future shift in this approach, starting with policies from FDA?

Dr. Bianco first reviewed the cumulative U.S. AIDS cases and other events in past decades including the 5 to 10 percent donor loss from variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (vCJD) deferrals; transmission of West Nile virus (WNV) by blood; FDA guidance on smallpox vaccination; white particulate matter in blood components; AABB Standard  on the detection of bacterial contamination in all platelet components; severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS); screening of recovered plasma for B19; alert about Monkeypox virus infections; and Leishmania deferral for travel to Iraq.

For the period of 1999 to 2010, the number of deaths as a result of WNV is 1,200, but the number of infections is between 1.9 million and 4.4 million. Implementation of WVN NAT screening in 2003 has been a success and has resulted in the interdiction of approximately 2,600 WNV NAT-reactive units, preventing up to 7,800 potential cases of transfusion-transmitted WNV.

The years 2003 to 2007 saw FDA guidance including HIV NAT and HCV NAT; assessment of donor suitability and product safety in cases of WNV; appropriate screening for HBV (increased sensitivity requirements); screening for antibodies to T. cruzi (Chagas); as well as AABB bulletins on bacterial detection and transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI).

From 2008 to 2010, additional FDA guidance was issued for platelets collection by automated methods (statistical process control); management of donors positive on NAT HIV, HCV and HBV; prevention of vCJD transmission; "lookback" for HCV; pre-storage leukoreduction with statistical methods; as well as AABB bulletins on "triggering" ID-NAT for WNV and screening for antibodies to T. cruzi.

Blood is now safer than it has ever been, but fear of the unknown and the uncontrollable still exists. The major challenges are environmental/social, where the public and recipient advocacy organizations expect zero risk based on the Precautionary Principle, and the reaction of accreditation organizations and regulatory agencies to these expectations.  An example of perception of transfusion risk is that HHV-8 is not dreaded and has unknown risk, while chagas and dengue are known and dreaded risks.

Next, Dr. Bianco reviewed the transmission and chronology of vCJD. The risk appears to be declining, but the number of exposed individuals is unknown, and a "second wave" is possible. In 2002 alone, the total loss from vCJD deferral was approximately 1.1 million donors and 1.7 million units. The deferral numbers are additive and still growing. Dr. Bianco referred to transfusion-associated vCJD as the smallest human epidemic ever recorded in medical history.

The emerging infection du jour is xenotropic murine leukemia virus–related virus (XMRV), which is associated with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).  Given that infectious virus is present in blood cells and plasma, blood-borne transmission is a possibility.  XMRV is unknown and unpredictable; it is a dreaded disease with a long incubation. XMRV transmission is documented, already widespread and with viral drift increasing pathogenicity.  The literature is controversial with no causality established in prostate cancer or CFS, no gold standard test and no other predictive intervention available. Given the previous HIV experience, XMRV presents a high concern.  AABB recommends that blood collecting organizations make educational information available regarding the reasons why an individual diagnosed with CFS should not donate blood.

Other unresolved and partially resolved blood safety issues include babesia, dengue, bacterial detection, TRALI, blood utilization and medical errors. Dr. Bianco pointed out our largest risks are not emerging infections, but other causes such as death in hospitals from medical errors.

A concern for the transfusion community is that diagnostics manufacturers shy away from donor screening and choose not to submit assays for U.S. clearance. Another concern is the business challenge of oversupply and competition. Changes are needed for transfusion medicine to become financially more attractive for product manufacturers in the current environment; to overcome the inhibitory effect of the recent U.S. history of regulatory failures for oxygen carriers and pathogen inactivation; to find alternative pathways for approval/licensure of assays with a limited market (e.g. confirmatory assays, HTLV-I/II, confirmation for HIV-2, malaria, babesia); to deal with public concerns about blood; and finally, to encourage and actively support the development of evidence-based policies, as opposed to rigid precautionism that does not tolerate potential risks and inhibits innovation.

There are consensuses for possible solutions, including a comprehensive approach to blood safety that requires the development of an integrated risk management framework that encompasses "vein to vein" and beyond; decision making based on transparent principles of risk management; a system that balances risks, costs and benefits in a sustainable manner; meaningful engagement with interested and affected parties throughout the process of risk decision making; and adherence to well-established ethical principles, including autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence and justice to ensure that the rights of both donors and patients are respected.

With changes in healthcare and the state of the economy, is there a future shift in this approach, starting with policies from FDA? Dr. Bianco concluded "Yes, there will be a shift. The evolving social and economic environment will drive changes. Public perception will be the last to change, based on evidence, education and on availability of care; and FDA will change after public perception changes. Unfortunately, it will take a while; only the very young among us will see the changes."

Blood Center News
Donors recovered from COVID-19 are helping others

The response from people who have overcome COVID-19 to Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center’s call for convalescent plasma has been amazing. We’ve seen a number of donors step up to help patients fighting the disease in local hospitals, and it’s beautiful to see our community come together for such an important reason.  

How to prepare for your next blood donation

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is open by appointment only right now, and we want to make sure you’re in tip-top shape to give when you come in to see us. Good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle can help you save lives, so take advantage of these tips before your next opportunity to give blood.  

‘Superhero medicine’ and blood donors help save Owen’s life

Sarah was celebrating her son’s fourth birthday in 2018 when she had to excuse herself. While she had the video camera pointed at her young son’s face, Sarah couldn’t help thinking this birthday might be his last. 

Owen was battling brain cancer for the second time. 

Two years later, birthdays have become extra special at the Langston household. 

Give Texas

This year on Feb. 26, we honor Dr. Reiss and her legacy through the first-ever Texas Bone Marrow, Blood, and Organ Donation Registry Day, established through the work of State Rep. Gene Wu and passed into law last year.

Blood drives and homemade cookies save lives

The Blood Center depends on the passion of thousands of organizations across the Gulf Coast region to help us save lives. We need 800–1,000 donations a day to serve all of the patients in our community, and we couldn’t do it without businesses, high schools, colleges, churches and a slew of other organizations that work with us.

Give the gift of platelets

It’s the most wonderful time of the year … to donate platelets! We have an urgent need for blood and platelet donations during the holidays, and blood donation is a great way for blood donors to spread Christmas cheer. 

What type of blood donation works for you?

Whole blood, platelets, red blood cells or plasma — you’ve got options when it comes to saving lives, and each donation has its benefits.

Lone Star Circle of Life

Cole was one of several organ, stem cell and blood donors and recipients honored in the 2019 Lone Star Circle of Life Bike Tour. Fewer than 12 cyclists are chosen to participate in the biennial event, which lasts about a week. The tour stretched from Tyler to Waco to College Station to Katy to Victoria before ending in Corpus Christi. 

League of Heroes: Heal for Real appeals to gamers

I think it’s safe to say nobody was more psyched than Lance when The Blood Center partnered with Team Liquid for the Heal for Real campaign. Team Liquid is an international esports organization with more a fanbase of more than 7 million people. The campaign is aimed at the gamer community because healers can be a big part of winning attacks.

Elephants need blood, too

At The Blood Center, we're all about saving lives — human or otherwise.  So it was a big deal to hear that we had a small part in helping save the life of a baby elephant named Joy. Joy is an Asian elephant, a species classified as endangered with only an estimated 40,000 left in the world.

What if this is the one that helps cure cancer?

Today I want to introduce you to Anne, a component technician responsible for separating blood into its different components.


Be safe, healthy and well

Our blood donors are the best. That’s why we do everything we can to make sure they are safe and comfortable every time they come in to save lives. To truly have the best experience, though, donors should be prepared.

Are You All In?

Some people get starstruck when meeting famous actors, while others want athletes to sign their memorabilia. My coworkers and I get excited when we get to meet real-life superheroes — people give their time because they believe they must help others if given the opportunity.

5 reasons blood donors are the best

The generous spirit of our donors amazes me. There are countless ways to give back to your community, especially in this technological age. Google “ways to give back in the Houston area” and you’ll find long lists of the needs in society. It’s, quite frankly, overwhelming. But you, you’ve waded through all of that information to find the most selfless way to support the people around you.

Why do you give blood?

Twelve students at the Thurgood Marshal School of Law already had signed up to give blood just one hour into their blood drive. It was amazing to see the heart of this high-achieving group taking time out of their studies with just weeks left in the semester to think about others.

Becoming Wonder Woman

I am an unashamed fan of Wonder Woman. Family members reminisced about how I used to wrap a towel around my neck and run around the house singing the “Woman Woman” theme song. (No, that wasn’t a typo. My ability to get song lyrics wrong was apparent even at the young ages of 3 and 4.)

You are powerful

Do you have any idea of the unbelievable power you have?

I was excited last summer to meet Shelley and her daughter, Courtney. The two were full of laughter and fun when Shelley came into our office for a photo shoot. Shelley is one of our long-time dedicated donors. She’s got that kind of giving spirit, and we were thrilled to capture a few photos of her.

Netflix and save lives like a hero: Top 5 movie recommendations

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to help save more lives than ever in 2019. But those automated donations can take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. Mine, in particular, lean more toward the hour-and-a-half territory. What’s a girl to do? Watch Netflix movies and donate. And because I’m so thankful for your willingness to help us save lives, here are my top five recommendations for January.

Have you given a Holiday Hug?

One of the best parts of the Holiday Hugs tradition is reading the notes our donors write for patients in the hospital over the holidays. It’s not an easy task as each patient has his or her own individual circumstance, so we’re restricted in which cards we tie to each bear. Still, many of our donors are well up to the task.

Every day, someone’s life is being saved.

By Tammie Riley 

I learned something the other day. Every day, someone’s life is being saved. I know that seems obvious, but let that sink in. What may be a normal Thursday for most could be something completely different for someone else. And that’s exactly what happened to donor Gary Gilson. Aug. 16 was one of the most important moments in Gary’s life. Not only did he save lives that day, but someone else saved the life of his loved one, as well.

Hospital tour highlights need

A 3-year-old girl lies in a hospital bed in the middle of the room with monitors attached to her bare chest. She’s awake, but she doesn’t lift her head as we walk into the room. Still, she follows us with her eyes. The only sound we hear from her is a small cough while a nurse comes in to check her stats.


The Blood Center teams up with Sickle Cell Association of Houston

Blood transfusion is one treatment used to combat complications from sickle cell disease, a form of anemia most likely to affect people of African descent. Prince and her now 27-year-old daughter, Quannecia McCruse, founded the Sickle Cell Association of Houston years ago to educate and provide resources to the community.


Drive and save lives

Penny, a local teacher with some free time over the summer, has helped us kick off our new Volunteer Driver program. Are you interested in joining us in our mission to save lives? Call us at (713) 791-6262 or email volunteering@giveblood.org.

Overcoming fear: Donating blood for the first time

I’m a scaredy-cat. I readily admit it. I hate needles. That’s always been my excuse for why I don’t volunteer for anything with a needle. Flu shot? No way. Vaccines? I still remember the sheer terror I felt from them growing up. 

We are always #HoustonStrong

We never know when the next tragedy will strike, but we have to be ready when it does come. 

Meet Eden

CYPRESS – There is nothing more American than baseball and saving lives. Everyone who participates in The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center’s Home Run for Life competition will get a chance at both through June 30.


SuperMax is the hero Houston needs!

Max was born with a genetic disorder (neurofibromatosis type 1) that can cause tumors to grow on his nerve endings, and SuperMax has been his alter ego ever since. 

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center mourns Barbara Bush

Barbara Bush helped save lives in our community, and we celebrate her lifetime of accomplishments. The former First Lady set the bar high in her commitment to helping others.


Dr. Charles Drew: A Blood Banking Pioneer

Here at The Blood Center, we pride ourselves on being an organization of diversity. We work together to save and sustain lives, and we each bring a unique perspective when it comes to fulfilling our mission.

Tying the knot and saving lives

Hurricane Harvey destroyed homes, cars and many other things, but one thing it couldn’t destroy is the compassion for others in newlywed couple Gilbert and Stefanie Cruz. Gilbert and Stefanie were set to get married just a few days after Harvey passed, but due the storm’s aftermath they had to alter all of their plans on a moment’s notice.


Blood on ambulances helps EMS agencies save more lives

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center has partnered with two local agencies providing emergency medical services to help save more lives when time is of the essence, now administering whole blood to patients on the ground.

Donor coaches hit the road sporting new look, features

In the last two years, five of The Blood Center's donor coaches have been refurbished. Find out why this is such an important process.

Circle of Life Bike Tour celebrates life

The Lone Star Circle of Life bike tour visits Texas cities to raise awareness of the need for blood, marrow, organ and tissue donations to honor those impacted by these donation types. This year’s eight-day, 600-mile tour included stops in Houston and College Station.

Blood Center Resources

Our mission is to partner with the community to save and sustain lives by providing a safe supply of blood, blood components and related services.

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center
1400 La Concha Lane
Houston, TX 77054

© Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center - Houston, Texas. All rights reserved. Powered by ContentActive