By Norman Shifflett | Garrison Public Affairs Office
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Fort Carson and the Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP), based out of Fort Bliss, Texas, hosted a blood drive Aug. 19-21, 2019, at the William “Bill” Reed Special Events Center.
Halfway through the blood drive ASBP had already amassed 243 units of blood.
“Our goal is to collect 600 units for the blood drive,” said Capt. Corrine Brown, commander, 534th Augmentation Detachment (Surgical), 10th Field Hospital, 627th Hospital Center, and Fort Carson Armed Services Blood Program liaison.
The ASBP is a nationwide program comprised of donor centers from the Army, Air Force and Navy. The program’s first priority is to provide blood to service members wounded in overseas operations. The ASBP staff travels to various installations collecting blood donations.
“If I was in a combat situation and I was injured, I would hope that someone else had taken the initiative to donate blood in order to save my life,” said Pfc. David Wendell, 4th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
Blood is perishable and only has a shelf life of 42 days, in addition, donors are only eligible to donate every 56 days. The ASBP partners with other installations to keep the blood supply flowing to the battlefield; this partnership increases the units collected.
Only one unit of blood can be donated by any individual. However, the unit of blood collected is called whole blood and can be split into plasma, platelets and red blood cells.
“So one donation can save three lives,” Brown said. “Their plasma can be given to one person, their platelets can be given to another person and their red blood cells can be given to another person.”
Sgt. Alicen Jennings, who works with the Wood Blood Donor Center, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, said she understands the importance of how donations affect fellow Soldiers.
“Donating is a way of giving hope to other people in need of blood,” said Jennings.
A plasma donation on site also served a unique purpose. The ASBP asked for people with A, B or AB blood types to donate plasma, Brown said. The plasma is freeze dried and can be reconstituted on the battlefield and used. The freeze drying technique extends the shelf life of the plasma because when thawed it has a short shelf life of five days or 24 hours, depending on the plasma product.
Every year the ASBP attempts to increase donations with a competition called the Battle of the Battalions. The winning battalion receives a trophy, plaque and recognition from the commanding general for having the most Soldiers donate blood during the drive. The 299th Brigade Engineer Battalion has won the last three blood drives.
“I love doing things that benefit the greater good,” Brown said. “Not only do I get to be in command of a unit that will one day go and save lives on the battlefield, but I get to do things here stateside that will help save lives on the battlefield.”