Blood drive supports Pacific Command, exercises
Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan -- The U.S. Naval Hospital held a blood drive June 23, at the Pacific Command Armed Services Blood Bank Center on Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan.
The ASBBC collects for more than just exercise Talisman Saber, however, according to Petty Officer First Class Christian Lacson, a lab technician with the blood bank. It collects the entire blood supply for the Pacific Command. This includes over 36 countries and more than 200,000 people. Uses for the blood vary, from treating combat injuries and illnesses, to helping during natural disasters.
The blood is either frozen and pre-positioned at blood product depots, or sent to blood supply units in the field. The blood lasts 42 days in regular storage, but up to 10 years when frozen, according to Lacson. The bank takes appointments for blood donations and hosts multiple blood drives per week in order to keep up with demand.
Army Staff Sgt. Denver Steele with the 19th Military Police Battalion Criminal Investigation Division on Okinawa, Japan volunteers to donate blood whenever possible.
He recalled his last combat deployment to Afghanistan when his battalion suffered many casualties, including some of his friends.
“I always try to donate,” says Steele. “Since I don’t deploy like I used to, I do what I can to assist.”
All volunteers willing to donate, like Steele, must undergo a screening process before they are allowed to give blood. They are questioned about their travel and medical histories and must have up-to-date immunization and blood records. This helps ensure the safety of any patient receiving the blood.
“If we have a patient who is already in need of a blood transfusion, (blood) that’s infected with something isn’t going to do any good for them,” according to Seaman Jared Clark, a lab technician with the center. “That’s why we have a (rigorous) screening process.”
Even if someone may be disqualified from giving blood there is still a way to help.
Volunteers are needed to sponsor blood drives. The primary job of a sponsor is to recruit potential donors, according to Petty Officer Third Class Feliciano Pacheco, a lab technician with the center.
Once the drive is complete, the blood is processed, cleared, tested and shipped in less than a week. This ensures that, if an accident were to happen, service members have quick access to life-saving resource according to Pacheco.
To learn more about blood donation and drive volunteer opportunities, visit www.militaryblood.dod.mil.