FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The Armed Services Blood Program, is helping support the humanitarian mission in Haiti by supplying Navy ships assisting with relief efforts with red cells and blood product. The Fort Bragg Donor Center is collecting blood to help support the ASBP's mission.

So far, the ASBP has provided units of liquid red cells to the USNS Comfort to augment their inventory of 346 units of frozen red cells. The USS Bataan's current inventory is 385 units of blood products. The ASBP is on standby to provide units as needed.

In addition, the ASBP ensured the Naval hospital in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba was able to care for the first victims transported for care from Haiti to the Naval base. Within 24 hours after the earthquake, the ASBP provided blood products to the hospital.

Capt. Aleksey Casco, chief of blood services at the Fort Bragg Donor Center, said the center is ready for all available donors looking to help support the continuing mission of the ASBP.

"The events in Haiti doesn't change the mission - our mission doesn't go away, the need is always there," said Casco. "The Armed Services Blood Program manages the priorities of where the blood product we collect is sent and if they say they need us to collect more to support the efforts in Haiti, we are ready."

Because whole blood is only good for 42 days, speed is of the essence when processing and shipping blood products. The Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center is able to get the blood for infectious diseases, separate it into its components (red blood cells and plasma) and ship it to the ASBP central processing location at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. within four days.

"You are able to almost immediately save a life when you donate blood," said Linda Ellerbe, ASBP recruiter. "The blood you donate on Monday is in the desert saving a Soldier within the same week."

The entire blood donation process takes less than an hour, said Ellerbe. This includes the registration, donation and short recovery time with refreshments.

"The process is easy, safe and incredibly important," she said. "Our blood donors are one of Fort Bragg's most valuable resources."

The Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center is located in Building 8-2807 on Scott Street. They are open Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Casco said that they are also able to schedule mobile blood drives for those who want to sponsor them. The drive must be on Federal property and be conducted in a suitable collection facility that meets FDA regulations.

For information on the ASBP or to schedule an appointment, call 396-9925 or visit Walk-ins are always welcome.