In 1950, blood was only available to patients in Humboldt and Del Norte counties after a long and grueling process. Once donors with the correct blood group and type were found, their blood had to be cross matched with the patient's blood. Donors then had to wait by a telephone during surgery in case they were needed since Humboldt and Del Norte had no way to store unused blood.
Local physicians decided that this was not an effective way to provide needed blood for surgery. Consequently, Shiras Jarvis, Phillip Dohn, Stanwood Schmidt, and George Watson decided to form a community blood bank. They approached the Eureka Elks Lodge, and under the leadership of Carl Hansen, the Elks raised the money to start the "Humboldt Del Norte Blood Bank." The blood bank was incorporated in 1951 and in 2016 we celebrated our 65th anniversary.
The original blood bank was in the Lloyd building which is still located on Fifth Street. In the beginning, physicians took turns drawing blood, but soon after there was permanent staff hired for those tasks. According to the minutes of original Board meetings, Aubrey White was the first "Head Technician" and paid employee of the blood bank.
Over the years the blood bank has needed additional space; it traded a parcel of land they owned on Second Street for the current property on Harrison Avenue. The current facility was constructed in 1994.
For over sixty years there has been a diverse group of individuals (too many to name) that have helped the blood bank thrive. Hundreds of men and women have served as members of the Board of Directors, and for many years the blood bank was part of the Humboldt/Del Norte Medical Society and benefited from the group's leadership.
Hundreds of thousands of selfless donors have willingly and silently come through our doors and to our blood mobiles to give "the gift of life" for no other reason but to do the right thing for someone in need.
In the first year of business the blood bank drew a couple hundred units. In 2016, the blood bank drew over 8,000 units of Whole Blood, twenty percent at our site on Harrison Avenue and the rest from blood mobiles throughout the two counties. We also collected over 3,000 apheresis components at the center and on a mobile "apheresismobile".
The blood bank has come far from its humble beginning and is looking to continue to grow with the aid of the community.