CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea -- When the military needs life-saving blood for U.S. and allied forces on the Korean Peninsula, the 95th Medical Detachment-Blood Support answers the call.
To keep up this precious supply, the 95th MDBS maintains the largest forward blood bank in the Department of Defense.
“Here in Korea, the military does not have a donor center, which means we are not able to produce our own supply of red-blood cells on a regular basis,” said Maj. Chewanda Jones, commander of the 95th MDBS. “We must maintain frozen red-blood cells on hand in order to support our local military medical treatment facilities at all times.”
Ensuring all beneficiaries remain able to receive blood products at a moment’s notice is their top priority, according to Jones.
In order to freeze blood, glycerol must be added as a preservative within six days of collection. Once frozen, the blood product is good for 10 years.
To return it to a transfusable product that can be used for a patient, the process must be reversed to remove the glycerol through the use of specialized instruments that “wash” the red-blood cells and readies them for use within 14 days.
“If this capability is not available, the military medical treatment facility would not be able to operate its surgical unit at full capacity,” Jones said. “Not having enough blood products on hand for those who need it can lead to longer hospital stays or postponement of much needed surgeries.”
Jones commended her team members for their speed and precision.
“My team is highly trained and extraordinarily proficient at what we do to support the Korean Peninsula with blood products,” she said, “and we are very proud to do just that.”
The 95th MDBS operates under the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Korea, which is a direct reporting unit to the U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command.