In November 1917, he built an ice chest from two ammunition cases, took 22 units of blood to a casualty-clearing station and used them to resuscitate Canadian soldiers judged too deep in shock for surgery. Eleven of the 20 recipients survived. This was the first use of cold blood storage or "banked blood." As a result of the success of his program, Dr. Robertson was assigned the task of training transfusion teams for the British Expeditionary Force. His transfusion teams became a common sight in battalion aid stations and divisional transfusion cellars, the latter, large underground bunkers where blood was drawn, typed, cross-matched, and transfused to prepare casualties for surgery. His work was recognized as among the most significant medical contributions of the war. The British Government awarded him the Distinguished Service Order.
Robertson built a donor and transfusion service that would be recognized today. He collected blood from previously typed "universal" donors by needle venipuncture. Blood flowed through rubber tubes into glass bottles containing citrate and dextrose solution. He stored these bottles in ice for up to 26 days and transported them to casualty clearing stations where they were needed. Excerpts from "The First Blood Banker: Oswald Hope Robertson," by J. R. Hess and P. J. Schmidt in the January 2000 edition of the magazine Transfusion.
The original blood donor center at Fort Hood was established in 1979 by Colonel (retired) Tony Polk. It occupied the World War II era theater on Battalion Avenue. His two teenage sons painted the building green one weekend. COL Polk requested Army green paint from the facilities engineers but instead, they sent him gallons of this light green so that the donor center stood out prominently. A homemade sandwich board was made by one of the laboratory non-commissioned officers and placed by the front gate on Fridays when a blood drive was scheduled.
The Robertson Blood Center was first conceptualized in September of 1996. The goal was to build the largest, most productive and most highly technologically advanced blood collection, testing, and distribution facility in the Department of Defense. The building was designed by Marmon Mok and had a square footage of 21, 571. The ground breaking ceremony was August 16, 1999, and shortly thereafter RJK Construction began to erect the building. Construction was completed in May of 2001 and the first donors were received in July 2001. (From the dedication ceremony program of the Robertson Blood Center, held in August 3, 2001, prepared by the Public Affairs Office of the Darnall Army Community Hospital, Fort Hood, Texas)
Built exclusively to collect blood donations, the highly qualified staff processes many of the blood products used by the Department of Defense. Every day is a blood drive at the Robertson Blood Center and the public is welcome to drop in and visit.
The Robertson Blood Center implemented a new testing technology, Nucleic Acid Testing in 1999. The new testing allowed the center to ensure even greater safety of the blood supply. In 2005, the center took on additional testing from Camp Memorial Blood Center, Fort Knox, closed by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission. At its peak, the Roberson Blood Center was testing over 100,000 donor samples annually from blood centers across the Department of Defense. As part of an effort by all donor centers to use civilian testing facilities to improve the age of blood going into theater, Fort Hood began a phased elimination of their testing program in August 2009 and tested their last sample in early January 2010. By October 2009, over 90% of blood coming from Army blood donor centers was arriving at the Armed Services Whole Blood Processing Laboratory-East by day four, with subsequent arrival in the Central Command Theater (Iraq and Afghanistan) by the seventh day after collection. This tremendous feat greatly impacts the Armed Services Blood Program's mission to save the lives of wounded Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, and Marines worldwide.
In January 2010, the Robertson Blood Center took on two new missions as it transitions into a Training Center of Excellence: Plateletpheresis and the Frozen Blood Program.
Past directors of Robertson Blood Center include some of the pioneers of the Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP).
|MAJ Teresa Terry||2011 – Present|
|LTC Dennis Dombrowski||2009 – 2011|
|LTC (P) Ronny A. Fryar||2008 – 2009|
|LTC David T. Reiber||2006 – 2008|
|LTC Donna S. Whitaker||2004 – 2006|
|LTC Elaine S. Perry||2000 – 2004|
|LTC Noel R. Webster||1997 – 2000|
|CPT Francisco J. Rentas||1994 – 1997|
|LTC Gary K. Kagawa||1992 – 1994|
|LTC Richard "Dick" Brown||1989 – 1992|
|LTC Stewart "Stu" Knodel||1983 – 1989|
|MAJ Bob Chaney||1978 – 1983|
|CPT Tony Polk (ASBP Lifetime Achievement Award recipient)||1975 – 1978|
(ranks indicated for their tenure at the blood center)
page last modified on: 5/7/2013