Skip to main Content

Help Alaska stay self-reliant. Give blood.

  • Author: Bob Scanlon
    | Opinion
  • Updated: February 18, 2020
  • Published February 18, 2020

Chief Executive Officer Robert Scanlon examines a tray in the platelet agitator in the Quality Control Lab on Monday, August 8, 2016, at the Blood Bank of Alaska. (Erik Hill / ADN)

Blood Bank of Alaska (BBA) needs you! 37% of Alaskans are eligible to donate blood. Less than 2% of us do. That means the majority of Alaskans reap the benefits provided to us and our loved ones from the few.

Those few Alaskans who provide the gift of life. Each and every day in our state, large quantities of blood are consumed by Alaskans. There are many reasons blood is needed. Medical procedures involving oncology, heart patients, complications from delivery labor, premature babies and elective surgeries. Traumas resulting from auto, snowmachine and work accidents. Blood is a basic foundation element of health care. You name a health care situation, chances are blood is or will be involved in some way or the other. Our ability to provide blood and save lives is directly related to the generosity of our volunteer blood donors, who sacrifice their time to make a difference.

We at BBA, our family and friends thank you, as well as every Alaskan in the state who takes the time and makes the effort to roll up their sleeve and save lives. Each and every Alaskan owes you a debt of gratitude.

As I go about the community making presentations to different civic groups, I always begin my presentation with two questions. First, how many in the room are blood donors or have donated blood in the past? Typically in a room of 30 people, I may have two or three people raise their hand. My next question: How many of those in the room thought to themselves as they started the day, “Gee, I hope Blood Bank of Alaska has blood and platelets on the shelf for me if I need them?” In the eight years I have asked that question, I have never had an audience member raise their hand. It is taken for granted by Alaskans that blood will always be there when they or a loved one needs it. It is taken on faith.

For 58 years, BBA and our generous, and wonderful volunteer blood donors have kept the faith with Alaska; because the unit is always there. The unit appearing doesn’t just happen, it is you and people like you donating blood to save lives that allows this logistical marvel to happen. As stated previously, we need you as a blood donor; today — if not you, then who?

Our geography requires that Alaska be largely self-reliant when it comes to supplying blood to patients in need. If a disaster occurs, such as an earthquake, we must be able to provide blood to those on the ground on a moment’s notice. Blood Bank of Alaska’s service area is one the largest and most challenging geographical areas for a local community based blood bank anywhere in the world. We serve virtually all the hospitals across the state, including all the military facilities and Alaska Native hospitals. For more than five decades, BBA and our volunteer blood donors have provided blood to Alaskans during volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, fires, blizzards, wind storms, floods and the normal daily occurrences that may require blood.

The demand for blood is changing, but not dissipating. At Blood Bank of Alaska, we spend our days meeting hundreds of community volunteers with one goal: saving lives. They ask for little in return: a few cookies, juice and a little friendly conversation. They make up less than 2% of the population in Alaska, but supply 100% of the blood that is needed. Our donors have helped thousands of patients here in Alaska, and with your continued support, we will help thousands more.

We ask you to consider becoming a member of this elite group of Alaskans. Please donate blood today.

Bob Scanlon serves as CEO of Blood Bank of Alaska.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at) Send submissions shorter than 200 words to or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.