Blood Bank welcomes director

Blood Bank welcomes director

The UF Health Shands Blood Bank and UF College of Medicine department of pathology, immunology and laboratory medicine transfusion services recently welcomed J. Peter Pelletier, M.D., as medical director. He joins a team of physicians and staff who provide safe and timely blood products and diagnostic services to patients across UF Health Shands.

Transfusion services supplies several blood products, including packaged red blood cells and plasma. They also freeze certain red blood cells and store them for patients whose blood types are too difficult to match. The department receives blood from LifeSouth Community Blood Centers.

Pelletier, who was previously a medical director for blood donor and transfusion services for the U.S. Air Force, now supervises the quality and efficiency of transfusion procedures at UF Health Shands. He also works with physicians to ensure patients treated with platelets and red blood cells have the best therapeutic results.

Peter Pelletier, Director of Transfusion Medicine Services

J. Peter Pelletier, M.D.

What are some of the challenges that come with blood donations?

Many of our patients do not cross-match easily to donor blood, so we need a variety of blood types in storage. Different patient groups require certain blood products, such as platelet support for bone marrow transplant patients and cancer patients on high-dose chemotherapy.

How often do shortages occur? Why?

LifeSouth Community Blood Centers does a very good job supporting our needs, and the shortages we saw about 15 years ago aren’t as common now. However, out of the eligible donor pool only about 4 percent of the donor population donates. We collect blood from across the nation, but this takes time and may delay important patient care. Therapies can be offered readily with more local donations.

Why is it important for people to donate blood?

Blood has a short shelf life, and we need to replenish our stocks regularly. Red blood cells can be stored for 42 days, but platelets can only be stored for five days. Each unit of blood has the ability to help three people. Healthy donors have no upper age limit, so I encourage others to donate and support our patients.

Why did you join the UF Health team and what do you hope to accomplish?

I saw the opportunity to teach medical students, residents and fellows and to do research in my field of interest. I like the environment and the welcoming atmosphere. I’m looking forward to doing more clinical teaching and to working with the upgraded blood bank lab information system. I am also becoming more involved in the clinical aspects of transfusion medicine.

For blood donation locations, visit