Media Inquiries

Our Community Relations staff is available 24 hours a day to respond to media inquiries.  Contact Leslie Gamble, Community Relations Director, at 405-278-3119 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with questions or to schedule an interview.

Oklahoma Blood Institute Marrow Program Earns Top National Honors

December 10 - Oklahoma Blood Institute’s (OBI) marrow registry was named the nation’s top recruitment program for 2013 -14 by Be The Match®.  OBI surpassed nearly 50 other hospitals and blood centers plus numerous Be The Match Registry® state-based marrow donor recruiters to receive the highest overall performance designation.

For 12,000 people annually with leukemia and other blood diseases, marrow transplants are usually the only cure that exists.  Be The Match®, as part of the National Marrow Donor Program, connects blood cancer patients with life-saving marrow matches from people through affiliates such as Oklahoma Blood Institute. 

Be The Match® ranked marrow recruitment programs by number of people in key age ranges and races that were registered to donate marrow.  Additionally, programs were evaluated by the number of registrants who reconfirmed their commitment to donate when surveyed by Be The Match Registry®. Programs are also asked to enlist financial contributions to defer the costs of recruiting registrants and conducting required lab testing.

Only four centers achieved all Tier 1 performance standards established.  Of those, OBI was tops.  OBI’s marrow program had also received an Award for Quality Performance for its meticulous clinical standards for marrow donor preparation and collection techniques.

According to James Smith, M.D., Oklahoma Blood Institute chief medical officer, the program’s success is attributable to two things:  the commitment of Oklahomans to help others even when it means personal sacrifice, and the diligence of our marrow team at OBI.  “They are incredibly focused on being the best in such a life-saving role for our state. And, we can’t say enough about the generosity of our citizens.  They show such tremendous giving spirit, and this is just another example.”

About the Need for Marrow Registration

  • Only 30 percent of patients in the U.S. in need of a marrow transplant have a matching donor in their family. So, 70 percent depend on Oklahoma Blood Institute’s Marrow Program and others affiliated with the national marrow registry, Be The Match® to find a donor.
  • Only 31 percent of those who have registered have diverse racial or ethnic heritage. Because marrow traits are inherited, a patient’s most likely match is someone of the same heritage. Major efforts are underway to increase registrants of Native American, Alaska Native, Asian, African American, Hispanic, Latino and Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Island heritage. 31% of those who have registered as potential donors have diverse racial or ethnic heritage. (3.2 million of the 10.5 million)

Registration Process

The entire registration process takes only 10 to15 minutes. Registrants need to:

  • be 18-44 years old and meet health guidelines,
  • complete a registration form with contact information for registrant and two family members or friends who can be reached in the future, in case registrant’s address changes,
  • answer health questions,
  • sign an agreement to join the registry, and
  • swab their cheeks for tissue typing.

Donors with Oklahoma Blood Institute also provide every drop of blood needed by all patients in metro-Oklahoma City area hospitals and 184 medical facilities and air ambulances across the state.  To register or schedule a registry event, call (405)297-5593 or email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

 

OU Upends OSU In Bedlam Blood Battle

UPDATED December 7 - November 24 - With nothing short of “Sooner Magic”, the University of Oklahoma (OU) won last week’s Bedlam Blood Battle with 914 blood donors.  This compares to 873 at Oklahoma State University’s (OSU).

Oklahoma Blood Institute’s (OBI) annual event began with OU class cancellations Monday, putting the school a day behind OSU in getting started.  In the past five years, OU has never won the fall challenge.  These factors appeared to make a Sooner victory improbable. 

“The students and faculty at OU truly pulled off ‘Sooner Magic’, said John Armitage, M.D., OBI President and CEO. The leader of the state’s blood center noted, everyone is a winner in this effort.  “The Bedlam Blood Battle is a great opportunity to show school spirit, but it’s an even better way to show the best in community spirit by saving lives. And that is the real victory.”

The Bedlam Blood Battle highlighted the need for blood donation heading into the holidays, when fewer people typically give. Since as many as three lives can be saved by each blood donor, the Bedlam Blood Battle has the potential to make a life-saving difference for some 5,361 people.

A trophy will be presented to OU leaders on Dec. 6, at the Bedlam football game in Norman, and the school will carry bragging rights into the spring semester.

Blood donors with Oklahoma Blood Institute provide every drop of blood needed by patients in 158 medical facilities and air ambulances statewide.  This includes all metro-Oklahoma City area hospitals.

Here’s the best news in Norman last Saturday! A VICTORY of another sort for the Sooners!
Watch the video of the trophy presentation!

Edmond Blood Donor Wins New Car from Bob Moore Auto Group

August 19 ─ When Art Meyers, Edmond, donated blood at Oklahoma Blood Institute’s (OBI) event with Bob Moore Auto Group, Aug. 9, he knew it felt good to help others in need.  But Myers didn’t imagine the good deed would result in winning a 2014 Ford Fiesta Titanium. 
Art Meyers, Car Winner
This past Saturday, five finalists randomly chosen from event participants gathered, knowing one would win the new car, courtesy of Bob Moore Auto Group.  They represented hometowns of Edmond, Norman, Oklahoma City and Tulsa where OBI provides blood to hospital patients. 

Meyers was the third to try and had the lucky key.  He is a veteran who began giving blood some 60 years ago in the service.  Meyers has donated blood 27 times with Oklahoma Blood Institute.  His wife, who is also a loyal blood donor, joined him for the exciting moment along with his daughter, son-in-law and four grandchildren.

Meyers was one of 1,149 participants in the 10-hour blood drives held at four Bob Moore Auto Group dealerships. The event marked the tenth year for the Bob Moore-hosted blood drives.  Through this event alone, some 2,886 Oklahomans who are in critical need of blood will receive it through the remainder of the summer.

“The tremendous turnout of blood donors at Bob Moore dealerships Saturday proved that those in our communities understand that people across Oklahoma continue to need blood,” John Armitage, M.D., CEO and president of Oklahoma Blood Institute said.  “The Bob Moore team has an incredible commitment to our local blood needs.”

Healthy adults, 16 and older*, are encouraged to donate blood every 56 days.  Every drop of blood needed by patients in some 150 Oklahoma medical facilities is provided by Oklahoma Blood Institute.  Oklahoma Blood Institute is the ninth largest, non-profit blood center in America, employs nearly 700 Oklahomans and works with an estimated 1,000 volunteers and 2,600 drive coordinators. 

Schedule your life-saving donation, today!

Donors Rewarded With Zoo Tickets

June 1 – All Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) donors at blood drive will receive two admissions to the Oklahoma City Zoo.  Those who make time to give during June at OBI blood drives and donor centers can enjoy summer fun at Oklahoma’s number one tourist attraction. 

This is the fifth year OBI has partnered with the Zoo to encourage people to donate. A T-shirt, featuring the Zoo’s snow leopard, will also be given to all who donate.
2014 zoo T-shirt
“It’s easy to get busy with summer vacations and other activities and forget about those facing life-threatening health situations instead of summer fun,” said John Armitage, M.D., OBI president and CEO.  “Giving just an hour this summer will make a life-saving difference for someone in our community.”

Anyone who is healthy and 16 years of age* can usually give blood, and donations can be made every 56 days. Health screenings and Donor Rewards points, redeemable in OBI’s online store, are also provided to donors.

Through a special initiative to support donor centers in underserved countries, any donor can forgo the T-shirt.  In turn, Oklahoma Blood Institute will make a monetary donation of similar value to Global Blood Fund. It’s a chance to ‘doubly give’ to help those battling for their lives locally and internationally.

Click here, to schedule an appointment.

* 16 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds and provide signed parental permission; 17 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds; 18+ year olds must weigh at least 110 pounds.

Have you made your life-saving donation?

May 1—Blood donors can feel good, knowing they are saving lives of community members with their donations at Oklahoma Blood Institute blood drives and donor centers.  Anyone who is 16 years and older* can donate; blood donations can be made every 56 days. 

Donors with Oklahoma Blood Institute exclusively provide blood needed by all patients in more than 140 hospitals across the state.

Each person who donates may select an appreciation item from OBI’s ‘Treasure Chest’.  If preferred, a donor can forgo the appreciation item to enable support of Global Blood Fund (GBF).  For each donor who chooses this option, a contribution to GBF will be made by Oklahoma Blood Institute.  GBF is a nonprofit that provides blood center technology and supplies to struggling blood centers around the world, so they can meet local needs through voluntary blood donation.

All donors receive free health screenings and Donor Reward Points, redeemable online for gift cards and apparel.

Appointments to donate are not required are encouraged.

* 16 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds and provide signed parental permission, 17 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds, 18+ year olds must weigh at least 110 pounds.

Blood Donors Treasured

April 1, 2014 – Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) will show blood donors just how much they are treasured.  Each person who gives blood during April will choose an appreciation item from OBI’s ‘treasure chest’. Free health screenings and Donor Reward Points, redeemable online for gift cards and branded merchandise, will also be provided.

Blood donors are truly ‘treasured’ by patients needing life-saving blood in some 140 medical facilities across the state. Giving blood takes about an hour, and each donation can save as many as three lives. All healthy adults, 16 years and older* are encouraged to give. Donations can be made every 56 days.

Each blood donor at this event will have the option to forgo an appreciation item so that funds designated for it can be contributed to Global Blood Fund (GBF). Global Blood Fund provides supplies and other support to struggling blood centers in disadvantaged countries.

Oklahoma Blood Institute is the ninth largest, non-profit blood center in America. 

Schedule your life-saving donation, Today!


* 16 year olds must weigh at least 125 and provide signed parental permission; 17 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds; 18+ year olds must weigh at least 110 pounds

Blood Donors Answer The Call - Blood Emergency Ends

February 11 - As of this afternoon, Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) again has an adequate supply of blood needed by patients in the 140 hospitals it serves across the state. Since Thursday, Jan. 30, OBI had faced critical lows in its supplies due to several winter storms and the resulting decline in donations.

“We have seen a strong response from kind-hearted blood donors who have come to our donor centers and blood drives the past few days,” said John Armitage, M.D., President and CEO.  “That Oklahoma standard has shown bright once again, helping us restore a sufficient supply. We thank all who have made giving a priority.

“We hope to avoid similar future scenarios as people realize how fragile the situation is.  Blood has a very limited time for its use.  About 600 new donors each day are needed to replace that which has gone on to patients in hospitals,” Armitage said. 

Armitage explained that weather is not the only factor affecting donor turnout now.
“We are also seeing the impact of the cold and flu season.  Some who usually give cannot due to illness, so we need those who are feeling well to stand in the gap for them.”

OBI urges everyone 16 years* and older who is healthy to visit its donor centers or blood drives every 56 days to give.  Appointments are not necessary but can be made by following this link.

* 16 year olds must weigh at least 125 and provide signed parental permission, 17 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds, 18+ year olds must weigh at least 110 pounds.

PREDICTED WINTER STORM COULD IMPACT BLOOD SUPPLY

January 30 ─ Public Urged to Make Blood Donation Part of Storm Preparedness ─ A winter storm forecasted for next week is causing great concern for Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI).  It is urging anyone who is healthy and at least 16 years old* to make blood donation a priority before Tuesday.  Blood donors with the nonprofit provide every drop of blood needed by patients in 144 hospitals across the state.

“We believe that donating blood, especially when a storm is predicted, should go hand-in-hand with filling up the car’s gas tank, taking care of pipes that might freeze and loading up on bags of ice melt,” said John Armitage, M.D., CEO and President. 

If predicted winter storms occur, as many as 19 OBI blood drives scheduled for high schools and colleges next week may be cancelled. Some 850 blood donors are expected at these drives, so school closings alone can devastate the blood supply.

“It only takes a day or two of inclement weather for us to see significant reductions in our blood supply,” Armitage said, “but the needs of patients - young and old - continue in our hospitals.”

Oklahoma Blood Institute donor centers are located in the following cities:

Ada,1930 Stonecipher Blvd.,
Ardmore, 1420 Veterans Blvd.,
Central OKC, 901 N. Lincoln Blvd.,
Edmond, 3409 S. Broadway, Ste. 300,
Enid, 301 E. Cherokee, 
Lawton, 211 S.W. A Ave.,
Norman, 1004 24th Ave. N.W., Ste. 101, 
North OKC, 5105 N. Portland Ave.,
Tulsa, 4601 E. 81st St.

Convenient blood drives are also scheduled across Oklahoma. Schedule your life-saving donation at a donor center or mobile drive near you!

Due to limited timeframes for use of blood and the desire to be good stewards of donors’ generosity, OBI typically maintains only a three-to-five-day supply.  This is similar to that of other blood centers nationally.

* 16 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds and provide signed parental permission, 17 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds, 18+ year olds must weigh at least 110 pounds.

Medical Breakthrough:  Public Umbilical Cord Blood Center Launched by Oklahoma Blood Institute

January 28 -  Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) officially launched the state’s public umbilical cord center today.  It is one of only 24 such centers worldwide. Until now, umbilical cord blood that can save lives has been thrown away after births across Oklahoma.  Without a local, public umbilical cord blood bank, most Oklahoma mothers had no option to donate it. Now, mothers of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, delivering at OU Medical Center can turn their joyous event into a life-saving one for those battling leukemia and other blood disorders with little hope. Other hospitals will be enlisted to partner in the future.

Thousands of people need stem cell transplants because a disease is present in their own cells (such as leukemia or a genetic disorder).  Seven out of 10 of these people do not find a matching donor in their families.  Presently, many can’t even find matches from those in the national registry.  Adding more stem cells from cord blood of those with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds increases the likelihood that more patients will find a match. As more treatment successes are found, stem cells from umbilical cord blood may even revolutionize care for life-threatening diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Particularly for minority populations most prevalent in Oklahoma, hope is slim for matches of stem cells. Those of Native American heritage and other minorities are poorly represented within national registries. 

OBI clinical staff informs mothers delivering at OU Medical Center with underserved ethnic descent of the opportunity to donate.  It is free to the parents, and the donation process is simple and painless.  After delivery and separation of the cord from the baby, the mother’s physician uses a syringe to collect blood from the umbilical cord.  Donation doesn’t change the delivery process and is only performed in an uncomplicated delivery with a healthy mother and baby.

According to Oklahoma Blood Institute, after initial processes for hospital and OBI collaboration are perfected, opportunities for partnership will expand to other state hospitals that have desired patient diversity and administrators and physicians with interest. 

“As a national leader in transfusion medicine, partner with Native American tribes and other minority groups and an affiliate of the National Marrow Donor Program, Oklahoma Blood Institute is well positioned to make sure diverse needs are better met,” said John Armitage, M.D., CEO and President of OBI.  “Ours is the only organization in Oklahoma where required blood processing and testing technology and expertise exists.”

Oklahoma Blood Institute is completing the final phase of rigorous FDA licensure requirements for the cord blood facility.  A major portion of OBI’s original headquarters at 1001 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, has been renovated to accommodate offices, laboratory and cryogenic storage tanks for the cord blood program. The next closest public umbilical cord bank is in Houston, TX.

OBI’s cord blood program is being established thanks to generous contributions from several Oklahoma foundations and scores of individuals, seeking to enhance the standard of the state’s health care, but additional support from benefactors is still being sought.  Oklahoma Blood Institute is the ninth largest independent, nonprofit blood center in the United States. 

Learn more about this exciting new program.