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    Colonel Francisco J. Rentas is Recognized with the 2021 ASBP Lifetime Achievement Award

    Colonel Francisco J. Rentas is Recognized with the 2021 ASBP Lifetime Achievement Award

    Photo By Sarah Lopez | The Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP) is proud to name Retired Army Col Francisco...... read more read more



    Story by Sarah Lopez 

    Defense Health Agency

    The Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP) is proud to name Retired Army Col Francisco “Frank” J. Rentas, PhD as the recipient of the 2021 ASBP Lifetime Achievement Award. Throughout his decorated and ongoing career spanning almost 40 years, Rentas has consistently ensured the mission success of the ASBP, advanced military blood banking in garrison as well as on the battlefield, and mentored others in the military and civilian blood communities.

    The purpose of the ASBP Lifetime Achievement Award is to both acknowledge and recognize a member of the military blood banking community who has made exceptional contributions to the ASBP throughout their career. To be nominated, an individual must have spent over 20 years within military uniform or over 30 years as civilian, making significant contributions to the ASBP. Furthermore, the individual must demonstrate continued loyalty, dedication, and continued service to the warfighter and their family.

    “We are very pleased and honored to recognize Colonel Rentas with this award,” said Army Col. Audra Taylor, ASBP division chief. “His service to the military blood community spans decades and has truly helped to save the lives of countless warfighters worldwide.”

    Growing up in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Rentas received his Bachelor of Science in biology from University of Puerto Rico, Cayey, and his path toward military blood banking began with his Army enlistment as a clinical laboratory technician in 1982. Throughout the 1980s, he served in clinical laboratory positions at Letterman Army Medical Center, Irwin Army Community Hospital, and 130th Station Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany. Rentas earned his Master of Science in immunohematology from Bowling Green State University while graduating as an ASBP Specialist in Blood Banking Fellow. Rentas then went on to earn a doctorate in Clinical Laboratory Science from The Catholic University of America.

    Following his master's degree, Rentas entered a dynamic period of time for the U.S. blood industry. Much of this change was due to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) releasing its Guidelines for Quality Assurance on Blood Establishments. During his role as technical director of Camp Memorial Blood Center, Fort Knox, Kentucky from 1992 to 1994, Rentas responded to these changes by developing and submitting the first Annual Quality Assessment for an Army blood donor center for use by the ASBP. This effort was critical to standardizing practices across the program and ensuring compliance with FDA guidance. While serving as director at Robertson Blood Center, Fort Hood, Texas until 1997, Rentas successfully completed the validation and transition to using a different anticoagulant solution when producing and storing red blood cells (RBCs). This was a significant milestone for the ASBP because it expanded the shelf life of products for garrison and deployed locations.

    When operations started in Afghanistan in 2001, Special Operations Forces identified an urgent need for the ability to carry blood products far forward on missions. While assigned to the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research from 2001 to 2004, Rentas led the effort to meet this urgent requirement with the development of the ‘Golden Hour Container’, an insulated container that preserves RBC or other liquid blood products at the required temperature for up to 72 hours with no battery or electrical support. The ‘Golden Hour Container’ received the U.S. Army’s Greatest Invention Annual Award in 2003, and is still in use today by the U.S. and their allies, helping to move blood closer to point of injury.

    Retired Colonel Glen “Mike” Fitzpatrick, former ASBP director and 2021 ASBP LAA recipient, explained that “[Rentas] efforts made the ‘Golden Hour’ transport box possible which evolved into a family of transport boxes that maintain blood products at appropriate temperatures for extended periods of time with eutectic technology…He epitomizes the values, mission and continued success of the ASBP.”

    In 2008, Rentas became the director of the ASBP. As the use of theater-collected blood products increased, Rentas led the writing and staffing of an updated Health Affairs (HA) policy on the use of non-FDA compliant blood products for emergency use. This document proved invaluable, as it provided the basic screening standards for service members to make emergency donations, as well as the standards that guide patient testing following the receipt of these products. In addition, Rentas also provided oversight of a tracking system following the patients who received these blood products. He also led the ASBP and Service Blood Program directors’ coordination and support efforts, which ultimately led to decreasing the amount of time needed to deliver RBCs to theater from an average of 13 days to an average of 7 days after collection.

    Another accomplishment while working as the director of the ASBP is Rentas’ work with the NATO Medical Blood Advisory Team to draft the organization’s Terms of Reference and Program of Work. He rallied support within the blood industry by having the ASBP logo added onto the Circular of Information (COI), an extension of an FDA recognized blood labeling standard. This effort demonstrated unity between both military and civilian blood agencies and increased the national visibility of ASBP.

    In the late 2000s, the ASBP had to decide on a technical solution to integrate both donor and recipient data. This led to the 2009 ABSP implementation of the Enterprise Blood Management System (EBMS), a system with the capability to integrate both patient and donor databases across all facilities, regardless of Service. Working closely with the Services Blood Program Directors and the Joint Staff Surgeon, Rentas led the acquisition efforts for this system, which was put into use across the ASBP and is still used today.

    “Rentas’ focused efforts reflect dedication and innovative thinking in service to the warfighter in all aspects of blood support,” Taylor said. “His contributions toward the development of the ‘Golden Hour’ box, an update of HA policy, and the foundation for the ASBP EBMS in use today have been critical. We as a program are forever grateful.”

    Rentas retired from military service in 2012. After retirement, he has continued to support the military and the blood banking communities. From 2005 until present, he has held an adjunct faculty position at George Washington University, teaching immunohematology and supporting the ASBP Specialist in Blood Bank Fellowship by mentoring officers on their research projects. Part of his mentorship includes ensuring that officers’ topics are both feasible and relevant to the military blood community. Since 2013, Rentas has been the Director of Research, Education, and Tissue Repository Operations at the Joint Pathology Center.

    Retired Air Force Col. Richard McBride, former ASBP director, reinforced the well-deserved praise for Rentas’ selection, “Congratulations to a fellow warrior-medic and friend on being selected for the ASBP Lifetime Achievement Award. Well deserved!”

    During his decorated career, Rentas has received and been honored with over ten awards and decorations. Rentas is also a prolific publisher, authoring or co-authoring over 60 peer reviewed journal publications and presentations.

    Army Blood Program Director Army Col. Jason Corley shared that “Rentas has had a tremendously positive impact on ASBP, providing leadership and mentorship across a variety of assignments from blood donor centers to director of the ASBP office. His accomplishments have shaped how the program operates, ranging from an enterprise blood establishment computer system to blood transport forward on the battlefield. Colonel Rentas is very deserving of this recognition for his years of support to ASBP.”

    For his decades of outstanding leadership as a military blood banking officer and as a Department of Defense civilian, for his mentorship of officers, service members and civilians and for his leadership both to the military and the civilian blood communities, it is the ASBP’s great honor and privilege to present Retired Army Col. Francisco “Frank” J. Rentas with the 2021 ASBP Lifetime Achievement Award.


    Date Taken: 10.20.2021
    Date Posted: 10.21.2021 09:11
    Story ID: 407640
    Hometown: PONCE, PR

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