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NEWS | Nov. 26, 2010

Deployed donors volunteer to save lives during Walking Blood Bank screening

By Cpl. Shannon McMillan , 1st Marine Logistics Group

CENTCOM

Vials of blood were collected for testing during a Walking Blook Bank pre-screening hosted by 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) at the Combined Aid Station, Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Nov. 20. More than 140 participants volunteered to have blood drawn for testing. Once approved, donors may be called upon at any time to give blood if additional blood supplies are needed. (Photo by Cpl. Shannon McMillan)

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (Nov. 26, 2010) —  A line of volunteers went beyond the doors of the Combined Aid Station during a Walking Blood Bank pre-screening here, Nov. 20.

More than 140 participants volunteered to have blood drawn for testing. Once approved, donors may be called upon at any time to give blood if additional blood supplies are needed.

“I was overwhelmed with the support of all the commands within Regional Command (Southwest) stepping forward to get screened,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Melissa Ramirez, blood coordinator with Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward). “It shows that we are one team, one fight.”

Flight delays can affect the timely delivery of blood products, and if patients need more blood than what is available, this is when the Walking Blood Bank becomes vital. It replenishes on-demand products within a short amount of time, helping medical personnel at the nearby hospital save lives, explained Ramirez.

The United Kingdom’s Bastion Hospital is one of the largest medical facilities in theater, treating everything from cuts and bruises to gunshot wounds and improvised explosive device blast injuries. With numerous patients being provided medical care on a daily basis, the medical staff goes the extra mile to make sure they are ready for any situation that may arise. By conducting Walking Blood Bank pre-screenings, the medical staff ensures they have enough volunteer blood donors in case of a mass casualty situation.

Coalition forces of all ranks, as well as civilian contractors, volunteered to roll up their sleeves for the opportunity to help out a service member in the future.

“It is paramount to have volunteers,” said Ramirez, 25, from Federal Way, Wash. “Without those men and women who volunteer their time and health to be a donor, the outcome would be severe.”

It’s an opportunity to help those who may need it in a life-or-death situation, said Sgt. Juan Pena, aviation technician, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward).

“If it’s a way to contribute,” Pena said, “I will gladly help to save a fellow brother or sister.”