News: JBLM honors blood donors
Story by Staff Sgt. Christopher Klutts
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Ed Nelson, a retired U.S. Navy sailor, has donated 17 gallons of blood to the Armed Services Blood Bank Center – Pacific Northwest. That’s enough blood to fill the gas tank of a midsize sedan and then some.
Members of the JBLM community gathered at American Lake Conference Center to honor Nelson, and other Puget Sound-area donors like him, during a ceremony Jan. 31.
“I just feel it’s the right thing to do. To help anyway I can,” Nelson said.
Maj. Christopher Evans, chief of Armed Services Blood Bank Center – Pacific Northwest, said the annual event also recognizes volunteers who coordinate, promote or staff blood drives.
The ASBBC located in the Old Madigan campus at JBLM is one of only three of its kind in the Department of Defense. Evans said all of the blood donated through the center directly benefits veterans and service members, whether in the Puget Sound or overseas in a combat zone.
Evans also thanked his staff during the ceremony. Though based at JBLM, the service members and civilians from ASBBC – Pacific Northwest gather blood from nearly 15 different DOD locations throughout the region as well as the U.S. Army Military Academy in New York and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado.
At every donor recognition ceremony, donors and staff hear a testimony from someone who has benefited from donated blood. A Navy corpsman spoke to the audience via live video from Afghanistan during the 2013 event.
Attendees of this year’s ceremony watched a video of Stacy Fidler, the mother of a wounded Marine, thanking donors at the annual National Blood Donor Month celebration in Virginia. Her son, Cpl. Mark Fidler, lost both legs to an improvised explosive device attack in Iraq.
“He basically was dead when they threw him on the helicopter,” Ms. Fidler said.
Cpl. Fidler received roughly 15 gallons of donated blood within a day of his injury.
“When you donate blood, you save a life and give somebody the opportunity to see what life holds. Thank you so much for all you do,” Fidler said.
Testimonies like Ms. Fidler’s form connections between donors and recipients. Nelson remembers the deployed Navy corpsman from last year’s ceremony.
“He had some product that had come from here that he was using in Afghanistan,” Nelson said, whose rare blood type yields universally compatible plasma. “That one, kind of touched me. It was AB positive plasma that he had, so that could’ve very well been mine.”
In addition to his own time in the Navy, two of Nelson’s relatives served in World War II, with one making the ultimate sacrifice. Most donors at the ceremony had some sort of tie to the military because the centers only collect donations at DoD locations.
John Dorsey, a U.S. Army retiree and Vietnam veteran, said two of his three sons are in the military. He believes more people would donate if they knew how much it helps.
“People just have to see the need. They are not aware of it. They hear it but they don’t see it,” he said.
Dorsey’s veins in his arms nearly collapsed this year and he is unable to continue donating platelets, but he still shows up to donate whole blood.
“I’m very thankful that I am able to donate. So many people cannot for various reasons,” he said. “I feel very fortunate to be healthy enough to do it.”
Service runs through the blood of donors like Dorsey and Nelson, and their blood now helps others who have served.
For more information about the Armed Services Blood Program, visit http://www.militaryblood.dod.mil/.