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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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MISSISSIPPI VALLEY REGIONAL BLOOD CENTER. Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, a not-for-profit organization, was established to bring the concept of shared blood services to the Quad Cities region. By uniting the Rock Island County, Illinois and Scott County, Iowa blood banks, the founders helped develop a safe, plentiful supply of blood for patients in local hospitals. (1) In 2002 the Center supplied blood and blood components to 36 hospitals including the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. (2)

On a national level, the first blood centers were founded in the 1940s in response to the need for component technology and storage to support the war effort. The first regulations were introduced through the National Institutes of Health; in 1947 the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) was founded just as many local communities were developing their own community blood centers. (2)

MVRBC was founded in 1974 when a shift in blood banking was made toward tightly controlled, process-oriented regulations and away from hospital-based control. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations for current Good Manufacturing Practices were established, along with a separation of blood products into those derived from volunteer and paid donors. A total of 17,000 post-transfusion cases of hepatitis were reported, and the first hepatitis test was introduced. (3)

In 1974, the National Blood Policy was developed to assure a safe and adequate blood supply. The policy encouraged “regionalization” of the blood supply, utilizing the community blood center as a model. It also phased out the paid donor system and established a private-sector group, called the American Blood Commission, to oversee activities in blood collection. (4) MVRBC eliminated the Family Plan and replacement fees for blood. Mobile operations were begun, with the John Deere Foundry sponsoring the first drive in 1975. MVRBC began blood collection automation, with the introduction of apheresis technology to collect platelets and plasma. This was temporarily discontinued in 1982 because of cost constraints. Today, automated apheresis donations are central to the Blood Center’s ability to meet patient need. (5)

Questions about the quality of the blood supply in the 1980s increased regulatory oversight. As new tests and processes were developed (increasing safety and also cost), community blood centers began to trend towards consolidation. MVRBC experienced the impact of this trend by adding new hospitals and territory through the 1990s and beyond. In 2001, MVRBC merged with the Southeast Iowa Blood Center, based in Ottumwa, Iowa. (6) In that year, MVRBC became the first blood center in the nation to implement an interactive video donor screening system, called the Quality Donor System® (QDS). Using a recorded questionnaire and touch-screen computers, the system provided donors a higher degree of privacy in the donor screening process. (7)

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 led to an increase in donations nationwide. MVRBC joined independent community blood centers across the country in asking blood donors to postpone their donation by making an appointment in the weeks and months that followed 9/11. (8)

With increasing military conflict in Afghanistan and the Middle East, MVRBC in 2002 was selected as one of six “hub” centers to supplement the military’s blood supply. The selection was the result of an agreement between the U.S. Department of Defense, the Armed Services Blood Program and America’s Blood Centers. (9)

The Blood Center expanded its service region to include hospitals in and around St. Louis, Missouri in 2005. MVRBC’s St. Louis operations are based out of an administrative center in Maryland Heights, Missouri, which also houses a reference laboratory that supports hospitals in developing a complete work-up for difficult samples and identifying appropriate matching blood for patients. (10)

MVRBC began providing service to MERCY MEDICAL CENTER and FINLEY HOSPITAL (THE) in the fall of 2002 while the donation center opened on February 1, 2003. With the addition of the Dubuque center, MVRBC operated twelve donor centers and served 36 hospitals in 31 counties throughout eastern Iowa and western Illinois. (11) In 2005 the Center at all of its locations collected more than 100,000 blood donations annually. (12)

Located at 4867 Asbury Road, the center aimed at collecting 75 units each week with an ultimate goal of annually collecting 4,000. Once local needs were met, the center helped ensure an adequate blood supply throughout the United States through a resource sharing program. (13)

In 2007, MVRBC formed the “Give Blood, Share Life” collaboration with Mercy Medical Center and St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to increase community visibility, expand capacity and enhance product availability in the Cedar Rapids area. In 2008, the Blood Center completed a successful fund raising campaign for a new bloodmobile and dedicated this new resource in August of 2008. (14)

In July 2010, MVRBC merged operations with Central Illinois Community Blood Center, based in Springfield, Illinois. Together, the combined organizations collect blood at 15 fixed site Donor Centers and on more than 3,500 mobile blood drives held each year. (15)

The "Gift of Life" promotion was announced in 2011. Anyone donating blood at the Center or mobile blood drive between December 26 and January 7 was entered into a daily drawing for a $100 gift card. A ohoto I.D. or MVRBC Donor Card was required. (16)

In June, 2018 it was announced that the local blood center was expanding to include office space that was vacant next door. The area would serve as the base for a new mobile drive team and initially three part-time staffers would be hired. The new staff also allowed for expanded hours. Previously the center had been open Tuesday through Thursday with every other Friday and Saturday. With the new staff, the center would be open Monday and eventually every Friday and Saturday. (17)

During the PANDEMIC, the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center was the participating distributor in the Mayo Clinic plasma program. (18)



1. Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center website

2. Hogstrom, Erik "Hospitals Switch Blood Suppliers," Telegraph Herald, August 25, 2002, p. 1

2. Mississippi Valley...

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11. Hogstrom, Eric, "Blood Donation Center Opens," Telegraph Herald, February 20, 2003, p. 2

12. "Lab Begins Testing for HIV Hepatitis C," Telegraph Herald, January 24, 2005, p. 1

13. Ibid.

14. MVRBC website

15. Ibid.

16. "Regional Blood Center Announces 'Gift of Life' Promotion," Telegraph Herald, December 23, 2011, p. 3

17. Kruse, John. "More Mobile Blood Drives Likely," Telegraph Herald, June 13, 2018, p. 3A

18. Fisher, Benjamin, "Plasma Treatment Common in Dubuque," Telegraph Herald, August 16, 2020, p. 1A