Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Isaac Newton once wrote to rival Robert Hooke in 1676, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

Many years ago, when I was a young "wet behind the ears" medical director of a small blood center in the middle of nowhere, I received a phone call that changed my professional life. Celso Bianco, MD, then-president of ABC, shocked me by calling to graciously invite me to serve as co-chair of ABC's Scientific, Medical, and Technical (SMT) Committee, along with Lou Katz, MD. As a relative newbie from a small blood center, I felt inadequate in the face of such a challenge, but Celso assured me I would be provided lots of assistance. After consulting my CEO at the time, John Guthrie, I accepted Celso's offer. I both survived and enjoyed my stint as SMT chair, going on to serve on other committees at both ABC and AABB. I tell this story partly to thank Celso and Lou, both of whom have become personal friends over the years, but also to highlight their generosity and graciousness in confidently handing the torch to the next generation.

If you have looked around the room in blood banking meetings lately, you may have noticed the number of grey hairs among us. We aren't gone yet, but our generation is edging ever closer to retirement. It is time we pick up the phone, much as Celso did all those years ago, and make a call to young, upcoming blood banking professionals. We must start passing the torchnow, while we can still mentor this talented new generation. They are ready to take their place among us as our newest leaders, but we have to open the door.

I encourage you - current blood center executives - to identify those emerging leaders in your own organizations because they are our professional future. Ask them to serve on an ABC committee. Encourage them to speak in one of the many educational venues available, including those offered through the new ABC Professional Institute (API). Metaphorically pick them up and place them on your shoulders, so they can see further than we have and take us into a bright future. It is easier than you think; so far this year we at Blood Systems have encouraged a young transfusion safety officer and two young physicians to become involved with the ABC Transfusion Safety Committee. It warms my heart to watch these young people shine and I cannot wait to see where they take our association and our profession in the future.

Finally, a belated but deepest thanks to John Guthrie, Celso Bianco, and Lou Katz. To this Texas girl, you made all the difference.  

Mary Townsend, MD, Board Member; mtownsend@bloodsystems.org 

Posted: 05/29/2015 | By: Mary Townsend, MD; Board Member | Permalink
< Back to list