PACOM Armed Services Blood Bank Center opens new facility
CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan -- The Pacific Command Armed Services Blood Bank Center opened its new facility March 18 next to U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa on Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan.
The PACOM Blood Bank Center provides blood donations for more than 200,000 people in more than 36 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Mandy McCammon, a public affairs officer with the PACOM Armed Services Blood Bank Center, USNH Okinawa.
The new building is located on Camp Foster behind the USNH.
“The new location gives us increased visibility and foot traffic,” said McCammon, a Mooers Forks, New York, native. “This is important because the need for donors is ongoing. The entire PACOM area is supported by the donations of the (Status of Forces Agreement) personnel in Okinawa, Japan.”
The blood bank team hosts four to blood drives per week and collects roughly 300 units, or pints, of blood products per month, according to McCammon. But quality is not sacrificed for the sake of quantity, and the blood bank adheres to the 42-day shelf-life that donated blood has. Expired blood is properly disposed of to ensure that each patient gets the highest quality of blood.
Some of the improvements include new equipment, such as new chairs for donors, a new waiting area, and new machines for processing and storing blood donations, according to Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole E. Gatlin, a laboratory technician with the PACOM Armed Services Blood Bank Center.
The new facilities make donating blood easier and more convenient for donors by making them feel more comfortable and making the process more efficient, according to Joseph Plott, a blood donor at the PACOM Armed Services Blood Bank Center.
“I’ve been donating blood since 1991,” said Plott, a Minerva, Ohio, native. “They need blood and I have it. There are always people in need, so the world needs people to give. I will continue to give blood as long as I am physically capable.”
For many donors, the only incentive to donate is the knowledge that they helped contribute to a cause bigger than themselves.
“If you have ever talked to someone who has been (on a combat deployment) or a mother with babies at the hospital that need blood or any number of situations, you realize it really is the difference between life and death,” said Gatlin. “Someone always needs it and we are brothers and sisters in combat or in garrison. That’s what it’s all about, sharing and saving lives.”