ASBBC-Europe team puts blood into lifeblood

by Maj. Patrick A. Cutter
86th Medical Squadron chief, Armed Services Blood Bank Center-Europe

To those who already donate blood and the volunteers who help coordinate blood drives: Thank you!

Each year, the generosity of blood donors and volunteers allow the Armed Services Blood Bank Center-Europe, based in Bldg. 3738 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, to fulfill its mission of providing quality blood products to service members and dependents within Europe and Africa during peacetime and war. Donors are true heroes who make a difference and save lives.

We turn your donations into products that help ensure the young Soldier critically wounded by an explosion survives, the Airman’s daughter suffering from cancer has a better chance of successfully battling a terrible disease, and the dependent spouse injured in a horrible car accident does not succumb to their injuries.
In many cases, the availability of blood makes the difference between life and death.

I am very proud of the service we at the ASBBC-Europe provide and the support we receive from the community. The ASBBC-Europe conducts approximately 150 blood drives and distributes more than 5,000 blood products each year.

The blood you see us collect at locations, such as the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center, is the blood made available for the wounded warriors and your loved ones. It is Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and patriotic civilians giving the gift of life to our fellow brothers and sisters in need. It is humbling when I see the impact our donors and volunteers have and to know it is their contribution that makes blood available on the battlefield and in our treatment facilities.

If you are not familiar with our process and wish to donate or volunteer, I ask that you visit the Armed Services Blood Program website at At this helpful site, you will find information regarding the blood donation process, the history of the military blood program, reasons someone may not be eligible to donate and a calendar listing all of the blood drives within the area.

Unfortunately, current guidelines do not allow us to take donations from individuals who have lived in Europe for more than 60 months total within their lifetime. Also, those who have recently deployed to locations such as Africa or Afghanistan are not eligible to donate blood until at least one year has passed from their return from deployment.

In addition to traditional blood drives, we also use a procedure called apheresis in which we only collect platelets from the donor and the remaining components are returned simultaneously. Platelets help to regulate clotting and prevent excessive bleeding. Platelet donations are invaluable and are needed in instances where a patient with a low platelet count due to cancer, anemia or other blood disease are unable to produce their own.

Blood donors may only donate once every eight weeks; however, platelet donors can give up to 24 times a year. The platelet donations are scheduled appointments and may take up to two hours. We do have a library of movies and music for donors to select from to keep them occupied during the time they volunteer to be with us.

Hopefully, you or any of your family members will never need a blood transfusion. However, be assured that the hard-working staff of the ASBBC-Europe and LRMC’s Transfusion Services have dedicated themselves to making sure the blood inventory is safe, screened for disease, efficiently managed and ready when needed.

This staff is a diverse organization of expert civilian and military medical laboratory professionals with a common ambition to treat each patient as family and provide the highest possible quality service. The urgent call for blood can come at any moment, and these individuals are always ready to get the job done.

It is a strong team, but we depend on the support of the local military community. I need you to be a part of our team by donating blood or time.

Please contact the ASBBC-Europe staff at 06371-86-7107 or 486-7107 with questions you may have regarding the blood program, volunteer opportunities or donor eligibility.