WASHINGTON -- Military members and civilians working at the Pentagon have a unique opportunity to support military hospitals, ships, combat support hospitals and medics on the frontline by giving blood and platelet donations to the Armed Services Blood Program.
The ASBP is a military blood program in the United States which provides quality blood products and services to customers worldwide in peace and war.
“Donating blood is important because, currently, there is no substitute for whole blood or platelets for the human body to nourish its cells once there is a large amount of blood loss due to injury or some type of disease process,” said Jerrick Alexander, blood donor recruiter.
When giving, the individual donating is given the option to donate whole blood or platelets, he pointed out.
Whole blood donation takes approximately an hour and about a pint is withdrawn at one time, while platelet donation can take up to two hours, said Alexander. The big difference in the two is, when giving platelets, only part of the blood is donated. The rest is returned intravenously to the person.
Since platelets are a component of blood essential for clotting, they are routinely needed to support cancer therapy, open heart surgery, blood disorders and organ transplants, he said. And, because platelets must be transfused within five days of collection, the supply is in need of constant replenishing.
Wounded service members, as well as cancer and surgical patients depend on blood donors every day, said Alexander.
One donor, Gregory L. Bonafede, Headquarters Air Force Executive Action Group speechwriter, found out how important the BSP’s blood drive was when he talked with Marines that had just returned home from participating in missions at Iraq.
“Many of them had been seriously wounded at combat and to hear them talk about what happened, having them state to us that if it weren’t for the blood that we donated they’d be dead, it made me feel very proud to have donated and very humbled at the sacrifice that they were making overseas,” he said, “I feel it’s a privilege to be able to give blood and have it go overseas when I’m not in the fight.”
When Bonafede was young, he remembers his father donating every time he was eligible.
“Now that I have followed my father’s example, I hope that my story will encourage others to roll up their sleeves and donate, too,” he said. “Its win-win -- we’ll have more blood and platelets available for those in need and those who donate will discover how good it feels to give.”
To find out more about ASBP, donating and qualifying factors, visit www.militaryblood.dod.mil.