Support our warfighters during National Blood Donor Month

By Dave Conrad USAG West Point Public Affairs

January 9th, 2020 | News, News and Features

January is National Blood Donor Month, and West Point is hosting an Armed Forces Blood Program blood drive Monday-Wednesday to support efforts to ensure our warfighters have the blood and blood products they need to make it home from the battlefield.
Between holiday travel, cold-and-flu season and bad weather disrupting drives, it is particularly challenging to keep enough blood on the shelves to care for our troops and their families.
The ASBP’s annual drive here at West Point helps get the year started off right, and relies on the support of our entire community to be a success.
Since 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program has served as the sole provider of blood for the United States military, according to their website. 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.
The ASBP ensures that the blood is available at the very first line of treatment, according to Army Maj. Pavel Munnerman, OIC for next week’s drive.
“Today, blood is transfused on the battlefield. Combat medics carry bags of blood in their golden hour or golden second containers. MEDEVAC and SOF medics carry bags of Low Titer O Type Whole Blood, liquid plasma and red blood cells to start the transfusion at the point of injury. This treatment allows for the trauma patient to survive until they are delivered to the higher level of care,” he said. “Once an injured service member is stabilized and evacuated to a medical facility, they may be transfused with all available blood products. While there, they may require what we call the massive transfusions, when 10-500 different blood products are transfused into one patient.
“Each donor can provide only one unit of whole blood, so, saving one patient may require contributions from dozens of donors. In fact, if blood is not available it is collected from prescreened populations at the facilities,” Munnerman said. “Such collections are prone to errors and possible transmission of the blood borne infections, and may not be enough to save a patient. So, we provide FDA cleared, tested and safe blood products for our fighting forces abroad and at home. It means that blood products that we collect needed quality and quantity, and we ship these products on time.”
Frequent deployments and travel to malaria endemic regions keep much of the military population from donating, Munnerman said.
Drives like the one at West Point, with a large population of donors who have not deployed, are critical in keeping the ASBP supplied.
Next week’s drive is open to anyone with access to the installation. The drive will be from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday and Wednesday  and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday at Eisenhower Hall.
Donors can walk in or make an appointment at https://www.militarydonor.com/, and select West Point as the sponsor.
Donors will receive a T-shirt and refreshments, and federal employees may be granted administrative leave for the time they are at the drive.