Soldiers Give Gift of Life to Trinidad Girl
May 16, 2008
MOUNT HOPE, Trinidad (Army News Service, May 16, 2008) -- Some 10 U.S. Soldiers from Beyond the Horizon, a joint humanitarian exercise, rolled up their sleeves and donated blood to help save the life of an 8-year-old girl at Mount Hope Hospital here, April 22.
The idea to donate blood started when Staff Sgt. Eric Gillman, from the 222nd Military Police Company, was doing his daily online check of the local news in Trinidad when he saw an article about Ariana Peters, who was in need of O-positive blood.
The girl needed a transfusion because she has a blood disorder called Beta Thalassemia Intermedia, which reduced her blood count to a very low level. Beta Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder that reduces the production of hemoglobin in the blood.
Sergeant Gillman showed the article on Ariana to his chain of command and asked if there was something U.S. Soldiers could do to help her while they were in Trinidad for Beyond the Horizon.
The news article Gillman read said attempts to get a blood supply through blood banks in Trinidad had been unsuccessful. This rallied Sergeant Gillman and other Soldiers in the camp to have a blood drive and donate blood.
Soldiers with O-positive blood quickly volunteered to donate.
"If you have the blood to spare, then why not donate'" said Marine Staff Sgt. David Means, 4th Civil Affairs Group. "You could be in the same boat later."
Coordinating with the Ministry of Health, Soldiers determined if they could donate blood and where to donate it to help save Ariana's life.
"A girl's life is at stake," said Sgt. Wrensford Ault, 786th Quartermaster Battalion, Virgin Islands National Guard. "If I can help her, that is important. She might save my life one day. If I refused and everyone else refused, then she wouldn't have a chance to live."
When it came time to donate, it was nothing new for most of the Soldiers, who donate blood whenever they can back home in the United States.
"Anything that can help anyone out, I'm in for that -- especially if a life depends on it," said 1st Lt. Ulisses Taymes, J2 intelligence officer, 470th Military Intelligence Brigade.
Bernadette Peters, Ariana's mother, said she was shocked when she saw Soldiers had come to donate blood to help her daughter. Peters thanked the Soldiers and told them her daughter now has honorary aunts and uncles.
Shereen Brazlon and the rest of the nurses at the blood center also thanked the Soldiers for donating their blood. But the greatest thanks the Soldiers received was seeing the big smile on Ariana's face.
"It is good to see how two countries can come together and save the life of a little girl," said Maj. Kevin Pruitt, information officer team chief from 49th Theater Information Operations.
Whether they wanted to or not, the Soldiers became heroes in the eyes of an eight-year-old by just raising their sleeve.
(Sgt. Ann Benson serves with Texas Military Forces Public Affairs.)