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This profile was last updated on 5/13/14  and contains information from public web pages and contributions from the ZoomInfo community.

Dr. George Garratty

Wrong Dr. George Garratty?

Scientific Director

American Red Cross Blood Services
Local Address: Pomona, California, United States
American Red Cross
2025 E Street, NW
Washington , District of Columbia 20006
United States

Company Description: Since its founding in 1881 by visionary leader Clara Barton, the American Red Cross has been the nation's premier emergency response organization. As part of a...   more

Employment History

Board Memberships and Affiliations


  • PhD
42 Total References
Web References
CBBS Today: Fall 2012, 1 June 2014 [cached]
One-on-one with Dr. George Garratty
CBBS Today: Sample Articles, 1 June 2014 [cached]
One-on-one with Dr. George Garratty CBBS Today: Sample Articles
CBBS Today
One-on-one with Dr. George Garratty
One-on-One with Dr. George Garratty
George Garratty George Garratty, PhD, FRCPath., currently the Scientific Director of American Red Cross Blood Services, Southern California Region, is a leading Immunohematologist with over 50 years of service in the field. Dr. Garratty has served on several national committees, including the Standards Committee of the American Association of Blood Banks and is an Associate Editor of "Transfusion". He has also represented North America on the International Society of Blood Transfusion Council, and served as president of CBBS from 1985-1986. He has published more than 300 scientific papers and been an author and editor of nine textbooks.
The following article is based on an interview between Dr.George Garratty and Ginny Tyler, a Southern California Regional Blood Bank Compliance Officer for Kaiser.
Dr. Garratty had already sent off his application to the Royal Veterinary College in London, but the rules of the era obliged students to serve two years of national service in the military first. He would have to serve two years in the Army Veterinary Corps before he could go to the Royal Veterinary College.
Undeterred, Dr. Garratty recounted, "I phoned up our local hospital, knowing that hospitals kept animal houses.
Hooked, Dr. Garratty gave up the idea of becoming a vet, and embarked upon laboratory work in the hospital's Hematology Department, which included the Transfusion Medicine Department.
Dr. Garratty noted that Dr. Dacie was world-famous (becoming Professor Sir John Dacie), and attracted many visiting hematologists who became quite famous in their own right.
Without even realizing it, Dr. Garratty was working alongside the world's two greatest pioneers in hematology and transfusion medicine, … and he was brave enough (in part he said, because he did not realize how famous they were) to impose on them, asking questions, and discussing interesting cases with them.
Dr. Garratty's 50-plus years in the field so far have been anything but dull. He has seen many changes unfold since his introduction to Immunohematology. He mentioned that he remembers back when the UK still used glass bottles for blood collections and transfusions.
A remarkable change was the near eradication of hemolytic diseases of the fetus and newborn when Rh immune globulin came on the market in 1968, the year that Dr. Garratty arrived in San Francisco. Administering Rh immune globulin to Rh negative women after they delivered their babies, if they were carrying Rh positive babies, stopped the production of the antibodies that might harm the mother's subsequent babies.
Dr. Garratty also described how the discoveries of new blood groups accelerated in the 1950s and 1960s. "When I began working, we had ABO, Rh, MNS, and P1, plus a few recently described major blood groups (K, Fya, and Jka). In the early 1950s the Duffy blood group system was discovered, named after a hemophilia patient in our hospital who made a new antibody (they couldn't call it anti-D or Du as they had already been used, so they took the last two letters of his name, calling it anti-Fya). We had a very small number of blood groups to deal with, and transfusions were not frequent, so we didn't see as many antibodies as we do now," he noted.
Soon that changed - dramatically. "Now, thanks to the antibodies people have made, and all the problems associated with these antibodies, we know about more than 300 blood group antigens on the red cell surface. Fast forward to the modern days, and we are analyzing and testing at the DNA level. When I started, there were only three antigens we were concerned with in ABO: A, B, and H. Now there are over 200 alleles in the ABO system, and the same in the Rh system. Blood groups have become immensely complex because of these discoveries, forcing the lab tests to keep pace," Dr. Garratty explained.
Reflecting on some changes that have shaped transfusion medicine, Dr. Garratty highlighted the late 1970s as a time of great changes in US immunohematology, particularly in abbreviating tests. Dr. Garratty said, "A stunning shift in philosophy occurred, and it was a very emotionally charged time.
Although her suggestion divided the community at first, Dr. Garratty said that eventually the country saw the sense of it; especially with an increasing interest in applying cost/benefit/risk calculations. In 1982, Dr. Garratty was the opening speaker in a two-day meeting in Washington to convince the FDA to go further by changing the existing law that required antiglobulin testing on every crossmatch. Fortunately, the law did change.
"Then, of course, along came AIDS and with it, the increasing need for more infectious disease testing," Dr. Garratty said. "During my training in England, we only conducted one test on blood donors for infections transmitted by transfusions, for syphilis. Then along came hepatitis, followed soon by the FDA getting involved in blood banking and deciding that we could not pay donors for red cells, and requiring us to develop tests to detect hepatitis antigens. Perhaps most significantly, the FDA decided to classify blood as a drug. That tremendous change, toward classifying and inspecting blood banks like a factory producing aspirins, impacted us significantly."
Relating to his research career, Dr. Garratty said: "When I came to the Red Cross, I'd never worked in a blood center; I had always worked in university hematology/transfusion medicine.
It's a living cell assay, complicated, and expensive - costing about $1000; it takes my senior researcher, Pat Arndt two days to complete the test; we have used it successfully for more than 25 years," explains Dr. Garratty.
Dr. Garratty also provided a glimpse into potential future changes. He remarked, "I give a lecture on the past, present and future of transfusion medicine, and I like to show a slide of things you might be seeing soon.
As for "artificial blood," despite attracting media attention, Dr. Garratty noted that the two main methods of creating so-called artificial blood have been a disaster. "One by one the clinical trials have produced poor results. One by one the companies have folded or withdrawn their support for this area. I almost feel like taking artificial blood off my slide given the results in the last 30 years."
He pointed to another intriguing idea, which he worked on with a group at the University of Southern California. They found that if they bind a chemical called Polyethylene Glycol (PEG), a large molecule to a red cell - which can be done easily - it blocks all the red cell antigens, including A and B. After years of experimentation, Dr. Garratty's team reached a point that they could block every blood group antigen, but were getting reactions with human sera that could only be explained if people had antibodies to PEG. To test this hypothesis further, they set up a rabbit model, and the rabbits made an anti-PEG that destroyed the treated red cells. "That's when we gave up," Dr. Garratty said. "It turned out that normal, healthy people have naturally occurring antibodies to PEG because it is used pervasively in a range of everyday products, such as in cosmetics, soft drinks and food processing. This case, Dr. Garratty commented, exemplifies just how hard it is to predict the future. "Although after eight years of work the project did not succeed, it was still an exciting area to work on. I've been extremely lucky in that I get up in the morning and look forward to going to work. Every day is exciting in research … you're always facing problems you need to try and solve. It's a continually exciting life."
There is a new method on the horizon that Dr. Garratty believes is most promising, but like so many things he said, we will have to wait quite a few years to see what it amounts to. He explained, "The hot new thing is cultivating red cells in the lab. There are a number of good groups working on it in America and Europe. They're able to do it pretty well using an embryonic stem cell, and you can even pick your blood group you want to grow from the mother cell lacking certain blood group antigens. Although many challenges remain, Dr. Garratty is optimistic.
Dr. Garratty predicts the effort will grow more popular, first for reference laboratories, and eventually, to hospitals as well.
It can be a challenge to draw people into Transfusion Medicine. Just as his mentors, Professors Dacie and Mollison inspired his interest in the field, Dr. Garratty urged, "Try to reach students as young as possible to get them interested and curious about the world of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine.
That used to be the sole purpose of Lab Week, Dr. Garratty recalled. "We'd throw open the doors of the lab to the public, with demonstrations, and we went to a fair amount of trouble to present our work and e
Webinar: RBC and Immune Response, 30 Dec 2011 [cached]
In this webinar, Dr. George Garratty and Dr. Anne North discuss past and recent experience with S-303 pathogen inactivation system for red blood cells regarding immune response.
George Garratty, PhD, FRCPath Scientific Director, American Red Cross Blood Services Southern California Region
George Garratty, PhD, FRCPath., is Scientific Director of the American Red Cross Blood Services, Southern California Region in Pomona, CA, and Clinical Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. He received his training in hematology/immunohematology in England, at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School of London, under Professor Sir John Dacie and Professor P.L. Mollison. In 1978 he was recruited to start a research program at the American Red Cross Blood Services in Los Angeles where he also directs the Red Cell Reference, HLA/Platelet Serology laboratories, and Community Education Program (including the SBB school). His research is mainly concerned with immune red cell and platelet destruction. He has published more than 300 (260 in peer-reviewed journals) papers, is co-author of three textbooks, and editor of six textbooks.
News, 24 June 2009 [cached]
George Garratty, PhD, FRCPath, Scientific Director, American Red Cross Blood Services; Clinical Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UCLA (2014)
2008 AABB Audioconferences, 11 Dec 2008 [cached]
Faculty: George Garratty, PhD, FRCPath, Scientific Director, American Red Cross; Patricia Arndt, MS, MT(ASCP)SBB, Senior Research Associate, American Red Cross Blood Services
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