Blood, not care packages, save lives
May 3, 2012
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Temisha Yalledy sat in a lawn chair in the Special Events Center, wiping the tears from her eyes with a napkin. Staff Sgt. Angela Gehers placed a blanket over Yalledy, trying to keep the petite Soldier warm as 400 milliliters of her blood drained into a blood bag.
"I hate needles," said Yalledy, a specialist with the 4th Engineer Battalion. "I was really nervous all day. Thinking about the needle going into me, that was the hardest part."
Yalledy was one of 150 donors to participate in the annual blood drive Tuesday.
"Blood is a vital resource and it will help out the Soldiers who need it," she said.
The blood drive, which took place Tuesday and Wednesday, benefits the Armed Services Blood Program. Blood collected for the program is sent overseas to military hospitals, ships, combat support hospitals and medics serving in combat.
"If people really want to support the troops, this is the way," said Lori Kuczmanski, blood donator coordinator. "Care packages don't save lives. Blood does."
Kuczmanski said this was the seventh year Fort Carson has hosted the blood drive and each year more volunteers donate.
"Last year we collected 360 pints," she said. "This year we brought enough supplies for 500 pints."
Medics and civilians from the William Beaumont Army Medical Center, located at Fort Bliss, Texas, collected volunteer information, drew blood and packed and shipped the blood to the Armed Services Blood Program. The blood is then processed, stored and distributed to troops overseas.
Kuczmanski said she hopes community members will donate to the Armed Services Blood Program.
"The Armed Services Blood Program is the blood bank for the military," she said. "If we're short, we buy blood from the civilian blood banks, which can cost $250 a pint."
Sgt. 1st Class Antony Bashful said he doesn't like needles, but donating blood was the right thing to do.
"I've given plasma and that hurts," said Bashful, 4th Eng. Bn. "That feels like you're going through dialysis. … This, it isn't so bad."
Family members, Soldiers and civilians participated in the two-day event, which collected more than 300 pints of blood.
"It's become an annual thing," said Patrick Laydon, a general maintenance worker for Fort Carson Support Services. "I can take a little discomfort for somebody who went through a lot."
Pfc. Ann-Marie John-Fuller's children, Mikael and Kyle, stood by their mother's side as she donated her blood. Although they were too young to donate, Mikael and Kyle said they would consider donating when they are old enough.
"This goes back to help our troops," said John-Fuller, 4th Eng. Bn. "I would encourage others to donate. It might not only save another Soldier's life, it might save your own."