JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - In April, a 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) noncommissioned officer conducted informational meetings to get Soldiers registered to donate blood platelets at the hospital here.

Staff Sgt. Freddie L. Scott, the paralegal NCO in charge for the 304th Sustainment Brigade out of Riverside, Calif., is working with the plateletapheresis lab located in the JBB hospital to recruit Army personnel to donate platelets. He said he initially went to the hospital and inquired about donating blood and found the real need was for platelets.

The JBB plateletapheresis lab is one of only two labs in-theater that provides platelets to forward operating bases across Iraq. Capt. Scott A. Corey, the apheresis team officer in charge for the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group, said approximately 90 percent of donors are Airmen. He said locating in-country donors is the only way to get platelets for patients here.

"Platelets have a shelf-life of only five days," said Corey, who is from Moore, Okla. "You can't get platelets into theater from the U.S. fast enough due to their short shelf-life."

Scott, a San Francisco resident said he is scheduling informational meetings to educate Soldiers on the importance of donating platelets. He said once Soldiers learn about the process he hopes they will sign up to donate.

Platelets are essential blood cells that help control bleeding by forming a primary hemostatic plug during hemorrhage. Patients require platelets for many lifesaving medical treatments, including burns and massive trauma.

"Platelets are extremely important because they are like the firefighters of the body," Corey said. "When a blood vessel is injured, they're first to arrive and form the platelet plug that stops the body from further bleeding."

Donating platelets is safe because each donation is supervised by trained professionals. Only a small amount of platelets are removed and the body will replace the donated platelets within 48-72 hours.

The blood is drawn from the donor's arm through a sterile needle and passed through an automated blood processing device, the platelets are removed and then the remaining blood components are returned to the donor. The process takes approximately two hours to complete.

"Some Soldiers will handle the procedure better than others because one must have good veins to have blood components taken out and put back in," Corey said. "Most apheresis procedures are completed without complications but minor adverse effects can occur."

Soldiers interested in becoming a platelet donor, contact Scott at DSN: (318) 433-2669 and attend an informational meeting. He said he is hoping his fellow Soldiers will step up and donate platelets because it has been such a rewarding experience for himself.

"I feel really honored to be part of a program that can support the medical field and actually help Soldiers and civilians," said Scott. "It feels like I am giving back."


STORY BY SGT CRYSTAL G. REIDY, 123rd MPAD, PUBLIC AFFAIRS.
FOR QUERIES, CONTACT 3D SUSTAINMENT COMMAND PUBLIC AFFAIRS AT: ESCPAO@IRAQ.CENTCOM.MIL .
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Page last updated Wed April 15th, 2009 at 06:11