The Fort Bliss Armed Service Blood Program held a donor recognition ceremony at the Fort Bliss Army Community Services building, April 22.
The ceremony recognized dozens of donors who have contributed to the program's success and continued support to service members throughout the world. During 2018, the Fort Bliss Blood Donor Center (BDC) collected 6,310 units of blood, equivalent to over 788 gallons. Additionally, 410 pints of apheresis, or plasma and platelets, were collected throughout the year.
Blood supplies are collected to support local installation needs as well as blood transfusions overseas, to include combat zones and are used for patients of all ages and to treat many reasons, from cancer to battlefield injuries.
"In (combat zones), a lot of (blood supplies) are taken to first responders, usually those role 1 and II providers," said Capt. Annette Mott, officer in charge, transfusion services and Fort Bliss BDC, as she addressed a crowd of donors during the ceremony. "You're the reason (blood gets to patients). We have folks who donate whole blood, some do platelets, some do plasma, usually whatever process works for them and we stick to it (so donors are familiar with the process)."
Donors were recognized for their donations of one, two, three, and even four-gallons of whole blood, plasma or platelets, helping the donor center meet its mission. Donors vary from service members and their families, to area federal employees which encompass various agencies to include U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
During the ceremony, Mott discussed current and future initiatives, including the center's recent licensure to remove leukocytes (white blood cells) from blood supplies, decreasing the potential for transfusion-related reactions, a process known as leukoreduction. Other innovations include licensed freeze-dried plasma products, which can be reconstituted to its original form on the battlefield, essentially allowing forward-deployed medics the capability to manage severe hemorrhaging.
For donors like Spc. Kris Kinder, donating blood products is one way service members can help others downrange.
"It's part of selfless service, I believe in helping other people," said Kinder, an aviation mechanic with 6th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. "This is one thing I do enjoy that can help others, and save lives."
It's estimated that 40 or more units of blood are needed for each trauma victim, eight units of platelets may be required for leukemia patients undergoing treatment, and a single pint of blood can sustain a premature infant's life for two weeks.
"I support the fight any way I can," said Kinder, who last year donated the equivalent of three gallons of platelets. "All it is, is two hours out of your day. I really like the program and support everyone who supports the fight as well. I hope others help out their Soldiers who deploy and those who need it."