Where does your blood go? TAMC answers

| March 31, 2017 | 0 Comments
Pfc. Rigoberto Munoz, medical laboratory specialist, prepares Sgt. Dalton Carrington for a blood donation at the Tripler Army Medical Center Blood Donation Center. Since 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program has served as the sole provider of blood for the United States military. As a tri-service organization, the ASBP collects, processes, stores and distributes blood and blood products to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and their families worldwide. (TAMC photo)

Pfc. Rigoberto Munoz, medical laboratory specialist, prepares Sgt. Dalton Carrington for a blood donation at the Tripler Army Medical Center Blood Donation Center. Since 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program has served as the sole provider of blood for the United States military. As a tri-service organization, the ASBP collects, processes, stores and distributes blood and blood products to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and their families worldwide.
(TAMC photo)

William Sallette
Tripler Army Medical Center
HONOLULU — When you donate your blood, do you know where it goes and who gets to use it?

The Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP) at Tripler Army Medical Center, also known as TAMC, collects blood and other blood products for service members around the globe.

The blood that the ASBP collects is heavily scrutinized and is used strictly for service members and their families.
However, sometimes the demand for blood can outweigh the supply.  This is why the TAMC ASBP holds multiple blood drives and collection events throughout the year.

The ASBP provides critical services that keep service members living and in the battle. Since the Korean War, the military blood program has provided more than 1.5 million units of blood to treat sick and injured service members on the battlefield. Today, the program maintains 25,000 units of frozen blood and 5,000 units of liquid cells at all times in order to meet readiness requirements.

Blood recruiters
Because many Soldiers deploy to areas where malaria and other major blood-borne diseases are prevalent, it can be difficult to collect enough blood to maintain the numbers that TAMC needs each year.  If the demand for blood outweighs the supply, TAMC will have to purchase blood from other organizations that collect.

“Luckily, we didn’t have to buy blood this last year, but that doesn’t mean that we are fully stocked,” said Michelle Lele, ASBP blood donor recruiter.  “Because we cover such a large footprint of the globe and have so many areas that are in need of blood, we are constantly looking for donations.”

There are other organizations that collect blood throughout the islands; however, there is only one organization that collects blood and blood products strictly for use by service members.  Yet, the ASBP is also limited on where it can collect, and by law, the ASBP can only collect blood on military installations.

Last year, the ASBP at TAMC collected more than 4,200 blood products, 431 units of plasma and shipped out more than 1,100 units of blood to military personnel overseas.

Although all blood is made of the same basic elements, not all blood is alike. In fact, there are eight different common blood types, which are determined by the presence or absence of certain antigens.

Blood type O is a universal donor and can be distributed to any blood type.  However, it is not the blood type that is most in need.

“We are constantly in need of all blood types; however, we have a special need for O negative, A and AB blood types” said Lele.

Type needs
Type O negative donors: Also known as “universal donors,” Type O negative RBCs can be given to anyone. For that reason, Type O negative blood is often used in emergency situations before a person’s exact blood type can be determined.

Type A positive/negative donors: Your blood type is the second most common U.S. blood type. This means there are many Type A patients out there who need your blood every day. Type A negative donors can also provide RBCs for the more scarce Type AB patients, if necessary.

Type AB positive/negative donors: The rarest U.S. blood type at only 4 percent, Type AB donors are also known as “universal plasma donors”, since their plasma can be given to anyone. For that reason, Type AB positive/negative plasma is often used in emergency situations before a person’s exact blood type can be determined.

Unfortunately if the ASBP does not collect enough blood for its service members, TAMC has to go buy blood from other organizations, which can be very costly.

“This is why it is so important to donate to your ASBP,” said Lele.  “Our blood collection is one of the strictest in the world and donating to the ASBP ensures that your blood is going to a service member or family member that needs it.”

Since 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program has served as the sole provider of blood for the United States military. As a tri-service organization, the ASBP collects, processes, stores and distributes blood and blood products to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and their families worldwide.

Learn more
To find out more about the ASBP or to schedule an appointment to donate, call us at 808-433-6148 or please visit our website at www.militaryblood.dod.mil.

Tripler Army Medical Center logoTAMC Tip
Staying Active
Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. People who are physically active live longer and have a lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers.
Take a few minutes to figure out how to add physical activity to your life. Find something you enjoy, such as jogging or running, dancing, or playing sports.
•Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
•Park farther away and walk.
•Walk the dog.
•Take family walks or play active games together.

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Category: Health

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