Eligible blood donors bear important weight

Christine JuneU.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

Eligible American blood donors in Europe are doing an amazing job, said Sgt. Terry Keith, U.S. Army Europe Blood Donor Center mobile collections NCOIC.

The USAREUR Blood Donor Center at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center is the only Armed Services Blood Program in Europe. About 90 percent of the blood collected by the center stays in Europe with about 80 percent of it going to LRMC for wounded servicemembers, said Mike Peacock, the center’s blood donor recruiter. He said the remainder goes where there is a need, including possibly downrange.

Restrictions such as travel to Iraq and Afghanistan and residing in Europe for more than five years limit the number of eligible American donors in overseas military communities, making blood collections here “quite a challenge,” said Sergeant Keith, who has been doing blood collections in Europe for almost four years.

“Those who are eligible actually have the responsibility – a heavy responsibility – to take up the slack and donate blood for everyone who gets hurt,” he said.

Sergeant Keith said less than 18 percent of the population in the U.S. donates to the country’s blood program. The percentage is slightly higher here, which he said shows eligible donors are carrying the responsibility for providing blood for wounded servicemembers, general surgeries and emergencies.

***image1***“They (eligible donors) are doing a wonderful job, and they need to continue to do it,” said Sergeant Keith.

Blood collections are a never-ending need here, said Sergeant Keith. He cites not only the increasing wartime requirement for LRMC, but also the fact that blood is a perishable item. Blood expires in 42 days, and eligible donors can give blood every 56 days.

The center conducts blood drives at military communities throughout Europe twice a week. Units sponsor drives to make it as easy as possible for its personnel to donate, said Mr. Peacock. He added these drives are usually open to the public.

Senior Airman Michelle Beck, 723rd Air Mobility Squadron’s unit blood drive representative, sponsored her third unit blood drive Dec. 13 at the 64th Replacement Battalion in the Passenger Service Center on Ramstein.

“This is for the troops who are injured so they can have a chance to live,” said Airman Beck.

Mr. Peacock said almost 50 donors donated blood at this drive.

One of those donors, Airman 1st Class Adam Shelby, 723rd AMS air transportation technician, kept his eyes away from the needle in his arm the whole time he was giving blood, which usually takes about five to seven minutes.

“I may not like needles, but I think I need to do it (donate blood),” he said. “If I ever need it, I would hope somebody would donate blood.”

For more information on donor eligibility and blood drive schedules, visit the center’s Web site at www.militaryblood.dod.mil.