Copyright © 2012 Amir Salehipour and Mohammad Mehdi Sepehri. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
This paper presents a novel application of operations research to support decision making in blood distribution management. The rapid and dynamic increasing demand, criticality of the product, storage, handling, and distribution requirements, and the different geographical locations of hospitals and medical centers have made blood distribution a complex and important problem. In this study, a real blood distribution problem containing 24 hospitals was tackled by the authors, and an exact approach was presented. The objective of the problem is to distribute blood and its products among hospitals and medical centers such that the total waiting time of those requiring the product is minimized. Following the exact solution, a hybrid heuristic algorithm is proposed. Computational experiments showed the optimal solutions could be obtained for medium size instances, while for larger instances the proposed hybrid heuristic is very competitive.