By Mr. Perry Jefferies (Army Medicine)October 22, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas (ASBP, October 22, 2009) - CPT Cheryl H. Bordwine knows the power of blood. Five years ago eight strangers saved her life. She will never meet them, but each donated a unit of blood used to save her life in surgery. As the Brigade Surgeon of Division West's 120th Infantry Brigade, one of Fort Hood's newest units, she is in a position to do something about that.
CPT Bordwine: "I am a miracle of life because eight individuals took the time out of their busy day to give blood. This blood drive is such a wonderful opportunity to help injured Soldiers in combat and to save a life. It's such a small gesture that makes a huge impact. Often times, it makes a difference in the lives of our fellow Soldiers and families."
Working with her brigade commander, COL J. T. Smith, she contacted the Robertson Blood Center at Fort Hood and began making plans for an Armed Services Blood Drive. As a brigade commander with Division West, COL Smith is responsible not just for training National Guard and Reserve units in the Southwest, but for the support and development of his own team.
Although their initial plan was to conduct one large blood drive and surge every blood donor they could on a single day, the Robertson Blood Center asked them to take a more steady approach. "We have to ship blood and blood products continuously," said the center's director LTC Dennis Dombrowski. "Although military commanders are very competitive it is actually much better for all involved if we collect quantities over a period of time. This way it is less of a disruption for the units and allows us to have the right products to ship to our deployed Soldiers when they need them. As long as the donors identify themselves we will make sure that their units get credit for their donations."
After energizing his command team, COL Smith approved a plan to empower donors to visit the donor center on post at regular intervals. As the executive officer, LTC Glenn B. Gildon said, "My opinion is that a culture change coupled with knowledge of the 'need' makes more sense than infrequent mass blood drives." The goal of the Armed Services Blood Program is to push the required units of blood and blood products onto the battlefield on the fifth day after collection. To do this effectively requires a steady stream of products and not just big collections at long intervals.
"It doesn't fit on a poster as easily," said CPT Bordwine, "but when the donors of the necessary blood groups report to the center, we are able to directly target the need on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan."
According to LTC Dombrowski, over seventy percent of the requirements for blood shipped into theater are for O positive units. "And we can never have enough AB units of either Rh factor, positive or negative. The hospitals and forward surgical teams use more AB products than we can easily supply."
COL Smith agreed, "I like the idea of doing it at the Robertson Blood Center. That is what III Corps STB is doing this week. Let's get our flyers created and start setting the conditions for this." The Robertson Blood Center at Fort Hood is a state of the art collection center and can accommodate more donors quickly and easily than any other facility at Fort Hood.
The 120th Infantry Brigade's blood drive will take place October 28, 29, and 30 at the Robertson Blood Center. Family Members, supporters, and the community are encouraged to turn out and support one of Fort Hood's newest units and the Soldiers deployed around the world by signing in and donating blood. Appointments are not necessary but may be made online by visiting www.militarylifeforce.com and searching on the sponsor code "DIVWEST."
To find out more about the ASBP or to arrange a military blood drive, visit the official web page at www.militaryblood.dod.mil.