City of Hope new bloodmobile

Life on wheels: new bloodmobile unveiled

Made entirely possible through grant support from three partners, City of Hope’s new bloodmobile will host blood drives throughout Southern California.

Blood donations are a vital part of health care. Every two seconds in the United States, someone needs donated blood or platelets. And many of them are cancer patients who all need blood at some point during their chemotherapy treatment. In fact, City of Hope® uses 40,000 units of blood for its patients annually. But fewer donations during the COVID-19 pandemic depleted existing supplies. 

The new bloodmobile will boost donations and help City of Hope replenish its blood products and meet this critical patient need. 

Renovations for comfortable donation 

Made entirely possible with private grant support, City of Hope purchased a new bloodmobile to give blood donors a more comfortable, streamlined donation experience. The old vehicle was run down and out of date, and had over 150,000 miles on it. The new vehicle is custom built and outfitted specially for City of Hope.  

“Everything in our new bloodmobile is self-contained,” says Francis Fong, the City of Hope bloodmobile coordinator. “From registration to donation to a quick post-donation snack — it all happens inside the bus. That’s unique.” 

The motor coach, branded with an easily identifiable City of Hope vinyl wrap, is 40 feet long and 14 feet wide. It’s the same length as a luxury charter bus, and it’s wide enough to take up eight parking spaces. It is outfitted with easy-to-sanitize nonporous surfaces and an updated air filtration system that meets COVID-19 safety protocols. 

OC bloodmobile in parking lot
The new City of Hope bloodmobile can collect at least 10,000 red blood units a year.

Donors now have room to register to give blood inside the bloodmobile instead of standing outside in hot or rainy weather. The vehicle holds five reclining donation stations, all equipped with smooth cushions and privacy screens. And donors can enjoy a snack in the canteen while they recover from their donation. The new design also provides extra room around each station, making it easier for staff and donors to move around. 

Generous donations from the Henry L. Guenther Foundation, The Ahmanson Foundation and a third anonymous donor made the new bloodmobile possible. Without their caring philanthropy, this modern, comfortable resource would not exist for City of Hope and its blood donors. 

“We are honored to contribute to this initiative that will undoubtedly save lives and strengthen community health,” said Susanne Sundberg, chairman of the Henry L. Guenther Foundation. “City of Hope’s dedication to providing leading-edge cancer care aligns perfectly with our philanthropic mission. We hope this bloodmobile will not only increase the organization’s capacity, but also inspire others to come forward and be part of this life-saving cause.” 

Meeting a critical need 

Blood donations and transfusions are a fundamental part of cancer treatment. Both cancer and its various therapies can negatively impact a patient’s blood cell production. Transfusions help rebuild a patient’s blood supply. As a result, patients can better withstand life-giving therapies with a lower risk of complications. 

City of Hope’s blood donor program collects blood and platelets for patients receiving chemotherapy and radiation. Patients who undergo cancer-related surgeries and other treatments also benefit from donations. To date, City of Hope doctors have completed over 16,000 stem cell transplants — almost all requiring donated blood. Of the 40,000 units of blood City of Hope uses every year, roughly 20,000 of those products are red blood cell units.  

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, City of Hope had a robust blood supply. At the time, the health system secured 70% of its blood products through community donations. However, blood donations decreased dramatically during the pandemic, reducing City of Hope’s blood supply by 30%. To continue serving the needs of countless patients, City of Hope spent over $7 million on blood products from outside suppliers in 2021 alone.  

Taking the new bloodmobile — with its new, inviting atmosphere — into more communities can help rebuild City of Hope’s blood supply and reduce expenses. Through one year of community blood drives, the bloodmobile can collect at least 10,000 red blood units — roughly 50% of City of Hope’s total red blood cell need. 

Inviting more donors to join City of Hope’s mission 

According to Fong, the new bloodmobile presents an opportunity for more community members to join City of Hope’s compassionate, life-sustaining mission. The bus travels to communities in a 70-mile radius of the health system’s main campus in Duarte, making it easier and more convenient for individuals to donate blood.  

“We are fortunate at City of Hope to have a large group of blood drive sponsors who support our efforts, but many dropped off during the pandemic,” he said. “The new bloodmobile presents a chance to rebuild those relationships. And it’s an amazing opportunity to bring in an entirely new group of dedicated donors who want to be health care partners.” 

The goal of each blood drive, Fong said, is increasing awareness of the importance of blood donation and the impact it can make on a patient’s life. To help spread the word and boost donor turnout, City of Hope Blood Donor Center provides each blood drive sponsor with marketing materials, digital flyers, QR codes and links to the bloodmobile schedule.  

The Blood Donor Center strives to schedule at least 50 donation appointments for each blood drive. Currently, the bloodmobile can complete one blood drive per day. But Fong said he eventually hopes to expand to several blood drives a day.  

“It’s very important to have our bloodmobile out in the field as much as possible,” he said. “It’s a mobile billboard for us, and it will make a huge impact in the community.” 

To learn more about donating blood at City of Hope, visit the website. Find a City of Hope blood donation event near you.  

Sponsors interested in scheduling a blood drive can call 626-218-5512 or email [email protected].