A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Donate and Save a Soldier

The very thought of giving blood makes me want to faint. I am terrified of needles.

But, this is more important than that. If you can, please donate some blood (I feel light-headed at the very word!).

AP: Army Seeks Blood Donations for Iraq War---

Recruits such as those at Fort Knox, sailors on ships at sea, and families of those currently serving abroad are all encouraged to donate blood as war wages on.

Each class of recruits has the chance to donate in basic training. It's not required, but like Armando, many feel it's their duty to donate.

"It makes me feel good knowing I can help," said Pvt. Larry Sanchez, 20, of Bancroft, Wis.

Injuries caused by insurgent attacks in Iraq have forced military donation centers to meet supply levels that exceed peacetime needs, said Lt. Col. Emmett Gourdine, director of the Fort Knox Blood center.

The demand for blood — almost all of which goes to a battlefield — has grown 400 percent since the war in Iraq began, he said. The quota the Army gave donation centers before combat operations began in Afghanistan was roughly 25 units a week, or $6,300 if purchased commercially.

Gourdine would not discuss current blood supply requirements because of security concerns, but said the demand shows no signs of waning as the war in Iraq enters its fourth year.
[ . . .]
The Army does not routinely take blood from civilian sources because of cost and the risk of depleting supplies that may be needed at home. Service members also cannot donate immediately after serving because blood-borne diseases in Iraq could infect supplies.

The Defense Department only uses civilian hospital supplies if the need for blood increases rapidly or to stockpile supplies before an operation, said Col. Stephen G. Beardsley, director of the Army Blood Program at Fort Sam Houston in Texas.

Basic training recruits meet only a fraction of the need. The Army holds routine blood drives where soldiers are encouraged to donate. Recent drives on Fort Campbell, which straddles the Kentucky-Tennessee line, have yielded record amounts while the 101st Airborne Division serves its second tour in Iraq. A recent drive there collected 96 units in one day.

During a typical collection at Fort Knox, soldiers rested in white chairs as blood dripped from their arms into bags. They laughed and joked — released from their drill instructors' inspection — before snacking on cookies and juice.

Gourdine, who served as an Army medic in Iraq, said his war experiences made it clear to him that donations save lives — particularly those that are jeopardized by roadside bombs.

"It's a horrific type of injury resulting in people losing limbs," he said. "They lose a lot of blood, and if you don't get blood to them in minutes, they die."
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