Stanford Medicine Newsletter Updates For the Local Community

A 30-year legacy of firsts

Chris Zable needed 20 units of blood to stabilize her bleeding when she gave birth to her twins, Rebecca and Michelle. The Stanford Blood Center was prepared for her transfusion needs.


Children and adults undergoing surgery, victims of trauma, newborn infants, people with cancer and leukemia, transplant recipients—these are just a few of those who need blood to survive.

Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital are among the largest users of blood products in the country, yet they rarely experience shortages because of Stanford Blood Center’s dedication to procuring and providing the safest blood possible. Without a steady and reliable blood supply, surgeries would be postponed and patients would suffer.

Palo Alto resident Chris Zable is among the many thousands who have benefited from the blood center’s work. She had a scheduled C-section at Packard Children’s in 2007 to deliver her twin daughters, Rebecca and Michelle. The evening before the procedure, she felt dizzy and be-gan losing consciousness. Doctors discovered she was bleeding internally and that her blood pressure had dropped to dangerously low levels. They immediately transfused the first of 20 units of blood to stabilize her while they worked to control the bleeding.

“Twenty people saved my life,” Zable said. “Now I get to see my babies grow up, and they get to have a mommy.”

Stanford Blood Center is among the few blood centers nationwide based in a medical school. Created within the Department of Pathology at Stanford University School of Medicine in 1978, it was designed to meet the increasingly large and complex transfusion needs of Stanford Hospital and Packard Children’s Hospital, and to sustain research and teaching programs in transfusion medicine.

The history of Stanford Blood Center is replete with milestones, particularly in the areas of blood safety and compatibility testing:

  • In 1983, it became the first blood center to screen for AIDS-contaminated blood, using a surrogate test (T lymphocyte phenotyping) two years before the AIDS virus antibody test was developed.
  • It was the first in the world to routinely test for cytomegalovirus (CMV), a leading cause of mortality in transfused newborns. It provides CMV-negative blood for immune-compromised transfusion recipients.
  • The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system was discovered at Stanford Blood Center. The finding revolutionized transfusion medicine and compatibility testing for transplantation.

These achievements represent the outcome of a close working relationship between research and clinical personnel, and the integration of the research labs with the Blood Center and Transfusion Service clinical programs.

“There are many ways to help Stanford Blood Center achieve our goal of saving lives,” said Ed Engleman, MD, medical director of the Blood Center and a professor of pathology at Stanford. “We urge community members to give blood, host a blood drive, become a volunteer or make a financial donation.”

Blood donations can be made at any of the center’s three fixed sites: 3373 Hillview Ave., Palo Alto; 780 Welch Road, Palo Alto; or 515 South Dr., Mountain View. Donations can also be made at scheduled blood drives at sites throughout the Peninsula and South Bay. SMN

For more information or to schedule an appointment to donate, call 650-723-7831 or toll-free 888-723-7831, or visit


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