For over 70 years, Cascade Regional Blood Services (CRBS) has played a critical role in our community, acting as the vital link between volunteer blood donors and patients in need at our local MultiCare Health System hospitals and health centers. Cascade Regional Blood Services provides our area with blood donations and blood products, which so many rely on to survive.

“The community trusts CRBS to ensure their donated blood and blood products make it to MultiCare hospitals and clinics treating their neighbors and friends,” Candy Morrision of Cascade Regional Blood Services explains. “It is this vibrant connection that has enabled CRBS to effectively meet MultiCare’s needs throughout the years. The mutual trust between CRBS and our dedicated donors allows us to serve the needs of the patients within MultiCare Health System. Whether collecting a specific blood type for a surgery, building up our supply during high-volume hospital use, or in the event of an emergency – our donors answer the plea, roll up their sleeves, and generously give for patients in MultiCare hospitals.”

Donated Blood in Tacoma
Doug is an automated apheresis donor, which means a donor can give a specific blood component, (based on the needs of the patients in MultiCare Hospitals). Doug has given 19 gallons of blood. Photo courtesy: Cascade Regional Blood Services

Cascade Regional Blood Services and MultiCare have developed a unique partnership over the years. The two organizations maintain a specialized team of MultiCare-credentialed registered nurses who perform services and procedures for both adult and pediatric patients in MultiCare hospitals. Some of these procedures include therapeutic plasma and red cell exchanges, which will allow critically ill patients to access treatment within the MultiCare Health System.

But CRBS and MultiCare have provided many more fundamental services more to local patients. These collaborations include:

  • Collecting specialized units to support pediatric ECMO and cardiac surgery programs, per MultiCare specifications
  • Providing a customized program to extend platelet lifespan by 25 percent, resulting in maximum efficiency
  • Producing liquid plasma to specifically support Covington Transfusion Services
  • On-demand irradiation of blood products within an hour
  • Maintaining an average 14-day supply of O negative blood specifically for MultiCare (compared to the national average of 2 to 3 days)
Jennifer, a CRBS nurse performs a red cell exchange at Mary Bridge’s PAI (Pediatric Ambulatory Infusion) for a 15-year-old patient with Sickle Cell Disease. Photo credit: Cascade Regional Blood Services Photo courtesy: Cascade Regional Blood Services

Every two seconds, somebody in the United States is in need of blood. And while we live in a time where we have instant access to an endless list of resources, this vital life source cannot be manufactured, which requires the help of generous blood donors. Cascade Regional Blood Services has been supplying MultiCare hospitals and health centers throughout Pierce County with life-saving blood donations and products since 1946. Blood products include red blood cells and whole blood, platelets, plasma, cryoprecipitate, among a number of other specialized blood products used for research and patient care.

CRBS and MultiCare Health System are also able to provide whole blood and platelets specifically for their pediatric heart surgery patients through their Baby Blood Program, and provide other special products collected from donors for ECMO life support, LVAD placement surgeries, and over 170 unique surgeries and procedures that are performed yearly in MultiCare hospitals and clinics.

Aside from collecting blood for local hospitals, Cascade Regional Blood Service’s highly trained team of professionals and nurses perform in-hospital procedures at MultiCare’s Tacoma General Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, and Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Health Center.

Cascade Regional Blood Services
Because of blood donations from local volunteers, kids are able to have their health under control, making it so they are able to enjoy their childhood. Photo courtesy: Cascade Regional Blood Services

These therapeutic apheresis procedures include red blood cell exchange, which is the removal of a patient’s diseased red blood cells, replacing them with healthy cells; cellular depletions, which is the removal of harmful amounts of platelets or white blood cells from a patient’s blood; therapeutic plasma exchange, which is the removal and replacement of a patient’s plasma, in order to remove pathogenic substances or replace deficiencies; and therapeutic phlebotomy, which is a treatment used to reduce the accumulation of extra iron in the body, usually resulting from a hemochromatosis or polycythemia.

Because of blood donations from local volunteers, children with certain diagnoses are able to have their health under control, making it so they are able to enjoy their childhood. Thanks to the care of CRBS and MultiCare, Isaiah, a nine-year-old from the South Sound, is able to play sports again despite his disorder. Isaiah was born in September 2009 and was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia a month later. He was first hospitalized at just three-months-old and has since spent more than 1,000 days at Mary Bridge, undergoing six blood transfusions and constant therapy.

Isaiah, age 9, has undergone six blood transfusions at Mary Bridge. Photo courtesy: Cascade Regional Blood Services

Charnelle, Isaiah’s mother, states, “To the staff and nurses with Cascade Regional Blood Services, I would like to say thank you so much from the bottom of my heart! Because of the outstanding job you do daily, I am able to hold my child in my arms day in and day out, and even though our journey is not over, I know without a doubt that I can trust the staff and nurses to do their job correctly. To anyone reading this, continue to encourage your peers to donate. It doesn’t have to be hip or cool, because saving a life is worth so much more. Because of your donations I am able to watch my son play sports that he enjoys and seeing the smile on his face brightens any dark day I have in life.”

Pierce County’s blood supply comes 100 percent from volunteer blood donors, and almost all of us will need blood products to help us out during our lifetime. Help save the life of someone in our South Sound community by becoming a blood donor.

To learn more about becoming a donor, visit Cascade Regional Blood Service’s website or stop by one of their three local donor centers for more information.


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