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    Army-Navy Blood Donor Challenge: an act of love, kindness



    Story by Alpha Kamara 

    Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

    By Alpha Kamara, WRNMMC Command Communications

    WRNMMC, Bethesda, MD – The culture of donating blood at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is an ongoing, lifesaving process. This tradition of donating is brought into focus during the annual WRNMMC Army- Navy Blood Donor Challenge which begins on the first of November and ends on the Friday before the annual Army-Navy football game.

    As in previous years, this year’s blood donor challenge featured service rivalry between the Army and Navy, with the Navy prevailing in a tight contest for the second consecutive year. The winner of the challenge is determined by donors voting for the service of their choice. In this year’s competition, the Navy received 75 votes, defeating the Army, who received 64 votes. The Navy leadership from Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command – Bethesda received the Challenge Trophy after Command Colors Dec. 16.

    Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the military and blood donation

    A key aspect of health care delivery is blood product availability for transfusion. WRNMMC is the largest user of platelets and the second largest user of blood and blood products in military medicine, making the need for a reliable blood-product inventory crucial to the delivery of care at the nation’s flagship military medical treatment facility (MTF).

    According to Navy Lt. Kenneth Frati, director of the Armed Services Blood Bank Center – National Capital Region, the holiday season is the period when blood donation is at its lowest level in the calendar year. Particularly this year, blood donations across the nation have fallen significantly, resulting in critically low blood product inventory across the military and the nation, he said. As a result, the Blood Donor Challenge is organized annually to ensure inventory of blood to support U.S. ongoing operations around the globe, and MTFs in the National Capital Region, including Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

    “We send 150 units of blood products every week to three combat commands in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. We also provide blood products to three military medical treatment facilities in the National Capital Region: Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Malcolm Grow Medical Clinics and Surgery Center at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia,” Frati said.

    WRNMMC in particular is a key beneficiary of blood collected during the annual Blood Donor Challenge because of its high usage of platelets.

    “One hundred percent of the platelets we collect go directly to WRNMMC because it is the largest user of platelets in the Department of Defense. This challenge helps us to collect more blood to supply the hospital and capitalize on the already existing Army-Navy service rivalry for the benefit of the military community,” Frati added.

    Benefits of blood donation

    For Frati, donating blood to the military has a lot of benefits, especially during this festive season. He said for service members, donating blood directly impacts the life of another service member involved in DoD operations at home or abroad.

    “Combat operations are first planned by how much blood is available. If there is no blood, there will be no mission. You never know when you, or your loved ones will need blood, but your blood donation will likely save someone in the darkest hour of their life. Each donation is a humanitarian act to a fellow service member or DoD beneficiary, and that is really what makes donating blood at WRNMMC so special,” he said.

    Frati commended the Army and the Navy for their service spirit and life-saving acts, as their selfless service in donating critically needed blood that sustains inventory to the DoD combat support mission and regional MTFs is invaluable.

    Receiving the trophy, Commanding Officer of Naval Medicine Readiness and Training Command – Bethesda, Navy Capt. Steve Aboona expressed gratitude to the Soldiers and Sailors who are contributing to the blood bank to save lives. He said the competition was friendly and fierce with a single goal: to save lives.

    “We are all colleagues with the same goal. Sometimes we try to outdo one another in the interest of trying to win. For me, all of us are winners because the goal remains the same: saving lives,” he said.

    Aboona added the blood donation challenge has left a positive impact on him. He promised to become an advocate for blood donation in and outside of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

    “Donating blood is about saving our lives and lives of the people we love. We don’t know when they will need it,” Aboona added.

    How can you donate blood?

    Experts say donating blood for the first time can be scary. Hence, people need to know the right information about their health and well-being first before donating blood.

    Frati said it’s so important for anyone who can donate blood to do so because it’s an integral part of health care delivery. He said those who want to donate blood go through a donor screening process regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine their eligibility to donate blood. “Potential donors will be screened for risk factors, such as health and vital signs to ensure the safety of the donor and recipient of the blood,” he added.

    Once the screening is complete, the blood is collected, manufactured and labeled for shipment to an MTF or downrange for ongoing DoD operations. Hence he ended, giving blood is a humanitarian act of love and kindness. Frati encouraged anyone interested in donating blood to visit and use sponsor code: WRNMMC to find a donation appointment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, or call (301) 295-2104 with any questions.



    Date Taken: 12.21.2021
    Date Posted: 12.22.2021 10:51
    Story ID: 411692
    Location: BETHESDA, MD, US 

    Web Views: 92
    Downloads: 0