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Local blood centers merge to offer more

Two blood banks hope that a planned merger will expand their ability to serve the USF Community.

Florida Blood Services (FBS) and the Southeastern Community Blood Center (SCBC) have plans to merge in 2009. They will consolidate resources for their respective Tampa and Tallahassee locations to reduce operational costs.

“We are being squeezed to keep quality up and prices down,” said Daniel Eberts, corporate communications manager for FBS.

Jeanne Dariotis, CEO of SCBC, said she hopes the merged FBS and SCBC will have the resources to advertise more in the community. Eberts said USF blood drives have always been very successful.

“We do hope to be out there more,” Dariotis said.

FBS has no specific plans for expansion in the Tampa community. If the organization visited USF more often, students who donate blood would have to wait to give again.

“People can only donate every eight weeks, so we can’t come too often,” said Sheri Teeples, a phlebotomist working on the Blood Bus.

FBS, which has been working for 60 years in the Tampa Bay area, has run blood-donor testing for 10 years, Eberts said, and tests about one-twelfth of the nation’s blood donations.

The merger is not expected to have an immediate effect on the centers’ day-to-day operations, but the companies hope it will more readily provide blood in the future.

“Long term, it will allow us to help each other out more directly, (such as) if there are shortages in other areas,” he said.

Dariotis said that business would continue to be done in the same way. The blood donated will continue to be used in the community where it is drawn, but the partnership will benefit both parties in times of need.

“We couldn’t imagine a blood center anywhere that was closer in operations to the Florida Blood Services,” she said.

FBS officials said they would like to see more USF students donate, because the blood from this area goes mainly to the surrounding hospitals and medical centers, said Mercedes Reddick, a Blood Bus nurse.

“College students are young and healthy, and this is an opportunity for them to give back to the community,” Eberts said.

The FBS Blood Bus is on campus about every week, and students can visit or call 1-800-68-BLOOD to find out when and where to donate. They can also donate at a center on Fletcher Avenue, Eberts said.