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Born in a time of need

Hubert H. Humphrey - MBC's First DonorThe need for a coordinated system to receive, store, and distribute blood became obvious to many Americans during World War II, when the availability of an adequate blood supply often meant the difference between life and death. To meet that need, several leading organizations came together to found the Minneapolis War Memorial Blood Bank and in 1948 began welcoming labor unions, lodges, and business groups to donate through organized blood clubs. Under a reciprocity agreement, people began banking blood to benefit others—a practice that soon spread to other communities throughout the state.

Milestones of growth and community service

Over the next six decades, we expanded our capabilities and effective outreach to fulfill our vision of becoming a leader in providing the life-saving blood products and biomedical services needed to save and sustain lives.

Early Years

  • Hubert H. Humphrey, former Vice President of the United States and Mayor of Minneapolis in 1948, is among the first to donate a pint of blood.
  • At the building dedication of the War Memorial Blood Bank’s new office at 2304 Park Avenue in Minneapolis—November 11, 1956—the Minneapolis Jaycees donate a cornerstone plaque inscribed “That Others Might Live.”
  • International brand leader General Mills signs on as a corporate sponsor of blood drives that continues today.
  • War Memorial Blood Bank becomes Memorial Blood Centers of Minnesota in 1985.

1990s

  • The organization is renamed Memorial Blood Centers, and in 1992, Duluth’s Arrowhead Regional Blood Center becomes an important partner serving the Northland, and the organization .
  • Three new donor centers are added—downtown Minneapolis, Plymouth and Superior, WI—and we become a member donor center of the National Marrow Donor Program.

2000s

  • New donor centers open in Hibbing, Coon Rapids, Virginia, Eden Prairie, and Bloomington, bringing to 10 the number of convenient centers throughout Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin.
  • All donor centers come under the name Memorial Blood Centers (MBC). 
  • MBC moves to its new St. Paul headquarters with state-of-the-art laboratory facilities to provide infectious disease testing and life-saving transfusion consultation, participate in the rare blood donor program, and support families and organizations with parentage and immigration testing services.
  • Named Associate Member of the Year in 2007 by the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA).
  • Among the first group of blood centers in the nation to implement ISBT 128, an internationally standardized blood product labeling system for added quality and safety.
  • Blood donations surpass 125,000 in 2008 (up from just 8,065 units collected in 1948)—and push MBC to a new, 60-year milestone of having saved and sustained over 6 million lives!
  • Received the 2008 Minnesota Quality Award.
  • The only blood center in the country to achieve Vital Supplier status for reagent red cells with Immucor, worldwide supplier of blood bank reagents and instruments.

2010s

  • One of the first blood centers in the industry to offer an innovative web-based iDonate Interview program, adding convenience and enhanced privacy for blood donors when completing required pre-donation health history questionnaires.
  • Received the 2010 Minnesota Quality Award.

2012

  • Merger with Nebraska Community Blood Bank announced.
  • Formation of Innovative Blood Resources, a new blood services organization, which will continue doing business as (dba) Memorial Blood Centers (primarily serving Minnesota and Wisconsin) and Nebraska Community Blood Bank (primarily serving Nebraska).
  • Innovative Blood Resources was a founding member of the National Blood Collaborative, a national network of leading blood centers with the capacity to respond to the increasing economic demands of hospitals and healthcare systems—efficiently and cost effectively.

2014



  • Memorial Blood Centers began providing O negative red blood cells to air ambulances in Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. Type O negative blood can now be transfused to a patient at the scene of an accident, or during transportation to a hospital.

2015

  • Began screening blood donations for babesia.

2016

  • Innovative Blood Resources formed a strategic partnership with New York Blood Center.
  • Began screening all blood donations for the Zika virus.