(From the American Red Cross, Tulsa Chapter Web-Site)
Dr. Charles Drew, first American Red Cross Blood Bank in Washington, D.C., February, 1941.
In 1947, the Tulsa Area Chapter Red Cross approached the Tulsa County Medical Society about the possibility of establishing a jointly sponsored blood donor center in Tulsa. The center would alleviate the problems of donor recruitment and storage faced by the hospitals. The present system had no guarantees that blood would be available for patients needing transfusions, relying solely on the availability of the “walking list.”
A special Medical Society Committee, made up of Drs. John Matt, Thomas J. Hardman, Felix Park and Mr. Jack Spears, executive secretary of the Society, was appointed to work with Red Cross officials on the development of a donor center. The center here was to be patterned after one at Wichita, Kansas, where the Sedgwick County Medial Society was a sponsor.
On May 11, 1948, an agreement between the Tulsa County Medical Society and the Red Cross blood donor center was signed. The agreement provided for joint sponsorship of the blood center, with certain responsibilities assigned each group. Later that month, Tulsa hospitals voted to participate in the new program.
The Tulsa Red Cross blood service was one of the first cooperative donor centers in the United States. It was officially opened on January 11, 1949 and was located at 602 South Cheyenne in the Community Welfare building.
One of its first blood donors was Thomas Patrick O’Brien, a 22-time blood donor from Brooklyn. He had read about the opening in the newspaper and decided to give a pint while waiting for his Oklahoma City bound bus.
The very first bloodmobile operation in Tulsa went to American Airlines, in 1956.
During the mid 1950s, the blood program had increased so greatly that American Red Cross was forced to expand its laboratory facilities.
The center was then able to do all needed lab work on the blood in-house.