JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. –
The McDonald Army Health Center hosted an Armed Services Blood Program blood drive, Oct. 13, 2022.
Blood drives like these have direct impact on patients of all ages, from those downrange to military family members who are in immediate need. In some cases patients depend on donors, regular and intermittent, to save their lives.
“My mom caught [COVID-19] and was placed in a coma,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Derick Eudy, Military Surface Deployment and Distributions Command, 690th Rapid Port Opening Element mechanic and blood donor. “When they woke her, she required a blood transfusion. Someone in this world that donated blood saved my mother’s life. I wanted to be able to give back, so hopefully my donation could save someone in need.”
Donors give what is known as ‘whole blood’, and it is made up from multiple components, which include red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, and blood plasma.
The red blood cells are the component carrying oxygen to the body from the lungs and carbon dioxide back to the lungs to be exhaled. The white blood cells help fight infections within the body, while the platelets help blood to clot. Blood plasma is the liquid making up blood, and suspends all of the other components within the body.
“Donating blood allows our caregivers to have enough blood to sustain and save the lives of critically injured people who urgently need blood,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Caleb Summers, U.S. Army Medical Department Activity McDonald Army Health Center orthopedic technician and blood donor. “I decided to donate blood because it's an easy thing for me to do.”
There is always a demand for blood donations as there is no true substitute for whole blood. Artificial blood can be used as a substitute for red blood cells only, while whole blood has greater flexibility as it can be used in more situations. Traumatic incidents or major surgeries are examples of when whole blood would be required.
Red blood cells can also treat people with blood disorders, platelets are needed in organ transplants, and plasma may be needed in emergent situations like shock or burns.
“I have donated blood several times before. Aside from my first experience, which gave me a fear of needles, blood drives have been very easy and smooth experiences with little pain,” said Summers. “As service members, civilians look to us as brave men and women willing to give our lives for them, to reinforce this belief it is our duty to provide assistance whenever necessary and blood drives are just one such opportunity.”
The ASBP hosts frequent blood drives nationwide, and those interested in donating can find ASBP-sponsored blood drives by visiting https://www.militarydonor.com.
“Everyone should take a little time out of the day to go donate blood,” said Eudy. “It will only cost you a small amount of time, but it could save multiple lives.”