USAG Ansbach community members prove themselves red-blooded: Blood program to visit Bismarck Kaserne
October 7, 2013
[Editor's note: Portions of this article appeared in the Feb. 21, 2013, edition of The Franconian News.]
ANSBACH, Germany (Oct. 7, 2013) -- As the donor sits in an elevated, reclining chair squeezing a stress ball, blood flows through a tube into a pint-sized bag. A machine whirrs, rhythmically sloshing the bag back and forth to ensure the blood stays liquid until it can be stored and shipped.
The Armed Services Blood Program will visit U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach Oct. 8. From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., ASBP will accept blood donations at the former post exchange location at Bismarck Kaserne, the bottom floor of D Wing of Bldg. 5843.
"It's only military servicemembers, their family members, veterans and U.S. civilian employees that can give," said 1st Lt. Chelsea Spiehs, the 412th Aviation Support Battalion medical officer who is coordinating the current drive Oct. 8. "You are giving to a cause that is really personal to what we do on a daily basis."
"It's all about giving," said Spc. Shellan Francois, former Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers president at USAG Ansbach, during a previous blood drive. "There may be a child in need, or one of us may get hurt or injured and our family member can't support us -- they [may] not have the right match. … Everyday someone's in need of that one quart or that one pint of blood."
"This blood is from the military, for the military," said Sgt. Haley Hilderbrand, a medical technician with ASBP. "You're saving Soldiers' lives, Soldiers' Family members' lives."
Donors pass through different stations on their way to donate, each one providing different administrative functions.
Medical history is discussed at one station. Colds, influenza, immune deficiencies, pregnancy, immunizations and surgeries might result in deferral of donation. Geography and the risk of contracting illnesses while visiting certain countries can result in deferrals both temporary and permanent. Due to the possibility of having contracted Creutzfeldt-Jakobs disease, better known as mad cow disease, people who have lived in Europe for certain lengths of time may not be able to donate. Soldiers who have returned from Southwest Asia may also be ineligible for several months.
"I am able to [donate], and not everybody is able to," said Laura Irick, Army family member during an earlier donation. "Not everyone is healthy and can provide healthy blood. And there's a need for it."
"We're trying to get 70 donors," said Spiehs of the Oct. 8 drive. "We're really excited to reach or beat that goal."
Blood pressure and iron levels are checked to make sure that the donor is fit enough at that time to donate.
"Have a good meal," Hilderbrand recommends to potential donors before they donate. Being well hydrated and well fed can mean the difference between a life-giving and a life-draining experience.
If it is determined donors are fit to give, the donor takes a bag to one of the donation chairs where one of the technicians inserts the needle for the blood to be drawn. After several minutes as blood pumps into a bag, the needle is extracted from the donor, the vein is gauzed and wrapped, and the donor, only one pint poorer rests for a few moments, where high-sugar drinks and snacks are available.
Donors should wait to ensure they are physically well enough to drive or walk home. In the following hours, donors should drink lots of liquids, leave their bandages on and avoid heavy lifting. Donors should also not exercise or perform other strenuous activities for a full 24 hours. If donors get a cold or flu in the next two weeks, they should call the blood donation center.
To learn more about the Oct. 8 blood drive, or to see whether volunteer opportunities are still available, call 09802-83-3947 or DSN 467-3947.
To learn more, visit www.militarydonor.com.