Felix Ortiz-Plaza, Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center quality assurance officer, validates temperatures on a scientific refrigerator used to store blood in the newly constructed blood donor center.
Felix Ortiz-Plaza, Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center quality assurance officer, validates temperatures on a scientific refrigerator used to store blood in the newly constructed blood donor center. (Photo Credit: Photo by Edward Smith) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — The Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center staff moves into their newly constructed building May 6, allowing people to give blood in a state-of-the-art facility.

Final collections at the old donor center in Bldg. 822 will be May 3 and collections in the new building, Bldg. 759, begin May 9. A grand opening ceremony for the new facility is set for 10 a.m. May 26.

Construction on the $13 million, 17,000-square-foot facility began Sept. 1, 2019, and includes amenities such as bedside televisions on the apheresis donor chairs, multiple televisions in the donor area for entertainment while donating, and a state-of-the-art blood processing lab, said Cindy Wise, U.S. Army Health Facility Planning Agency transition manager.

“We’re very proud of our new facility because it will allow us to collect donors and help others more efficiently,” said Felix Ortiz-Plaza, Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center quality assurance officer. “We are currently a satellite collection facility and have to ship our blood to Robertson Blood Donor Center at Fort Hood, Texas, for processing, testing and distribution. We have no space to expand our operations in our current facility and this larger, more modern one will allow us to do those things here and be one step closer to becoming an independent donor center.”

Other than being in a different location, everything about donating blood at the new Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center remains the same. Sundays through Tuesdays are collection days for unit-level blood drives, and 8 a.m. to noon Wednesdays are reserved for appointments and walk-in donors.

The Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center collects blood for the Armed Services Blood Program, the official blood collection and transfusion agency for the Department of Defense. Collected blood goes directly to medical facilities in Afghanistan and other overseas contingency areas, as well as military hospitals on installations throughout the Department of Defense.

The military healthcare system requires about 400 units of blood every day. It's the ASBP's mission to make sure that blood is available to medical providers, but that can’t be done without volunteer donors, Ortiz-Plaza said.

“We look forward to having everyone come donate with us at our new facility,” he said. “It is a life-changing experience for many who are on the receiving end of your donations. So, if you have your health, celebrate it by giving blood to those who are not as fortunate.”

Everyone who donates receives a free ASBP t-shirt, some juice and cookies, and a heart-felt thank you. Those completing their fourth donation with the ASBP will receive a Certificate of Achievement from the General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital commander – worth five promotion points. Additionally, Fort Leonard Wood Civilian Personnel Regulation 690-12, Chapter 8, encourages employees to donate blood and allows up to four hours excused absence to donate blood, recuperate and travel to and from the donation site.

Potential blood donors must weigh at least 116 pounds and be at least 17 years old and feeling well for the past three days. They must also be well hydrated and have eaten something before donating.

Those wanting to donate should bring a list of foreign countries traveled to — be sure to include when, where and for how long — and a photo ID (military ID, driver’s license, etc). Due to changes in ASBP travel restrictions, people previously deferred for time spent in Germany and certain other countries can now donate.

To get to the new Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center from the main gate follow Missouri Avenue to North Dakota Avenue and merge right at the electronic marquee. Follow North Dakota to Iowa Avenue and turn left. Follow Iowa to West 11th Street and turn right. The new donor center is at the end of that street, across from Cunningham Gym. On-site parking is available.

For more information call 573.596.5385 or e-mail Carl.A.Norman2.civ@mail.mil. Also like us on Facebook, visit www.Facebook.com and search for Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center.