Blood Centers of the Pacific’s Mission is to provide an adequate and affordable blood supply which meets the health and safety needs of the public; and to conduct medical and scientific research and education that improves the safety and efficacy of blood transfusions.
When two San Francisco physicians began exploring ways to supply blood in adequate amounts to people who needed it, the concept of a community blood bank did not exist. Although some hospitals had small drawing stations, there wasn’t a sufficient method of obtaining and storing blood for later use – by both our military and community hospitals.
The two pioneers decided to pursue the idea of a community blood bank. The San Francisco Medical Society (SFMS) granted the fledgling blood bank permission to operate out of the basement floor of an old San Francisco home owned by the SFMS known as the Irwin Mansion.
In June of 1941, Irwin Memorial Blood Bank opened its doors to its first volunteer blood donors. “This was the very first nonprofit community blood bank in the nation,” recalled Dr. DeWitt K. Burnham, one of the founders. The physicians kept their promise to the people of San Francisco that never again would a patient be without an adequate supply of blood.
After years of growth, the blood bank expanded its blood collection operations throughout Northern California. Soon, it became clear that a bigger facility was needed for its headquarters and in April of 1955, Irwin opened its new doors at Masonic and Turk Streets in San Francisco, where BCP’s headquarters exist today.
In 1997, the Irwin Memorial Blood Bank merged with Peninsula Blood Bank to become Blood Centers of the Pacific (BCP) —a name that encompasses the large region served by the now one organization. In 1999, BCP affiliated with Blood Systems the nation’s second largest blood collection organization in the United States. Finally in 2011, Blood Centers of the Pacific merged with Blood Bank of the Redwoods which had operated in Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino Counties since 1949.