RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
There are many things that can save a life and stop a human body from crashing. Some of those things can even be manufactured. However, one of the most needed items cannot--blood.
That’s why the Armed Service Blood Program-Europe encourages everyone to donate when possible.
“It’s not uncommon to be afraid of needles, but that often stops people from donating,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph-Luis Kilgo, 86th Medical Squadron NCO in charge of training. “I was uncomfortable around needles at first, but I look at it this way: what if it was you that needed the blood? You would want someone to give as much as they could.”
As the sole provider of blood and blood products for the U.S. armed forces, ASBP has a high demand to fulfill. ASBP-E provides support to U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Central Command and U.S. European Command, creating a need of approximately 100 units of blood per week.
Though the primary recipients of ASBP’s services are deployed service members injured while performing their duties, the ASBP also provides blood for service members and their families at home and in military treatment facilities.
“A single pint of blood can sustain a premature infant’s life for two weeks,” said Collen Urban, ASBP-E blood donor recruiter. “I think it is very important to donate blood when you can because you never know when you or someone you love may need it in return.”
Though there are things that can disqualify a person from donating blood, including age, weight and length of stay in select countries or regions, most healthy adults are eligible to give blood.
A person must wait 56 days before they can give another whole blood donation, but the donation process typically takes less than an hour including the pre-screening exam, actually donating blood, and the recovery, or watch.
“I believe we (service members) are the ones that mostly need it,” said Staff Sgt. Deeanne Rosario, a Reservist air transportation journeyman with the 73rd Aerial Port Squadron, Fort Worth, Texas. “Being overseas and abroad, it’s hard to come by a guaranteed clean, safe donation.”
Upon taking a blood donation, the ASBP tests each unit of blood for its type, antibodies, diseases and other abnormalities to ensure a recipient is getting the best donation possible.
Safe units of blood are transported to areas where they are most needed, to be used when they are needed. However, Urban urges people to remember that blood is perishable and needs to be continually replenished.
Though most adults are eligible to give blood, there will still be a few people that can’t donate. However, this does not mean that these individuals can’t help the ASBP.
For those unable to donate blood, they can provide baked goods and other snacks to help keep donors’ strength up after they give blood, volunteer to conduct a blood drive, and of course spread the word for others to donate.
“I absolutely encourage people to donate,” Rosario said. “The more we have the merrier. You can never have too much blood.”
For more information on how to donate blood, visit www.militarydonor.com. To find more information on the ASBP, visit www.militaryblood.dod.mil.