One-day blood drive aids armed services
The Armed Services Blood Program is holding a blood drive from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 10 at the Lounge at the Lanes.

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - Staff Sgt. Kristen Duus, a video production design instructor at the Defense Information School, knows the importance of blood donations. Her 4-year-old son, Alexander, was diagnosed with hemophilia when he was 6-months-old. His blood lacks the clotting factor that is necessary to heal an injury. A minor injury for a normal child can turn into a serious one for Alexander, who might require a blood transfusion.

Duus is rolling up her sleeves on May 10 to donate blood for Alexander and others in the military community who need it. The Armed Services Blood Program is holding a one-day only blood drive from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. For the second time this year, the blood drive's location is the Lounge at the Lanes.

Fort Meade Casualty Assistance Officer Lt. Col. Brian Woolshleger said holding the blood drive at the bowling alley turned out to be a bonus. More than 40 units of blood were donated when the location was used for a similar drive in February, including 20-plus walk-ins.

"The visibility was greater," he said of the bowling alley. "It was big enough to accommodate us, but it was small enough to be semi-private in the back room."

As an added benefit, every donor receives a voucher for a free shoe rental and game of bowling at the alley.

Donors who register before the drive are taken first. Walk-ins are welcome and will be accommodated as soon as possible, Woolshleger said.

The blood drive is being operated by the Armed Services Blood Program, which is based in Bethesda. Blood donated through the program is kept within the military community and is used on the battlefield and in DoD facilities.

"It's more of a direct conduit to the military community," Woolshleger said. "Being a military service member and loving the military, I know my blood product is going directly to serve a military person."

If the demand for blood is higher than the supply - normally the case, according to Woolshleger - the military must purchase blood from the Red Cross, at a cost of nearly $400 a unit, he said.

Duus donates blood as often as she can. Since she is a blood relative to a hemophiliac, her blood donations must go through an irradiation process to filter the blood in case it is transfused to her son.

"[Donating is] really vital," she said. "The benefits far outweigh the risk - it's a little poke."

The process takes between 45 minutes to an hour, and includes a blood test to check factors such as iron levels and a medical screening to ensure the donor can safely donate.

Donors must be in good health, weigh more than 110 pounds and be at least 17 years old.

However, there are a few precautions. People who have traveled to an area with malaria must wait one year before donating blood. In addition, depending on the location and length of time, potential donors who were in Europe may be prohibited from giving blood as well.

It is recommended that donors eat a full breakfast prior to donating, Woolshleger said.

Duus said donating blood is rewarding. "It makes you feel like you're doing something more than just your job," she said.

Woolshleger agreed. "A lot of people come into the military because of a great respect and honor for this country," he said "Giving blood is just another daily opportunity to serve your country in a different way."

For more information or to register to donate blood, call 301-677-2311, 301-677-7036 or 301-677-5406.

Page last updated Thu April 28th, 2011 at 16:36