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Fort Carson rolls up sleeves for military blood drive

By: Nick Beadleston nick.beadleston@gazette.com
June 15, 2014 Updated: June 15, 2014 at 8:25 am
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More than 120 people donted during a blood drive at Fort Carson this month. The blood was sent to military medical facilities, including those serving troops in Afghanistan. (Nick Beadleston / The Gazette)

More than 120 soldiers from Fort Carson, family members and civilian workers donated critical blood and platelets during a two-day drive that ended June 4.

The annual drive supports the Armed Services Blood Program from Fort Bliss, Texas.

"Our mission is to collect blood, and make sure blood products are available for military members when and where they may need," said Maj. James Burke, with the blood program.

"I usually only donate to the ABSP (the blood program)," Staff Sgt. Nicholas Denoncour said. "I appreciate that they are able to come around because it always goes back to the soldiers.

The blood, transported back to Fort Bliss right after the drive, was processed and sent to U.S.-based military medical facilities to installations around the world. Blood donated at Fort Carson could be used to save the lives of troops, including those in Afghanistan, within several days, Burke said.

Time is often a critical factor for those in need of an emergency transfusion. According to the Armed Services Blood Program, collected red blood cells can only safely be used for about a month. Platelets, a blood derivative needed for clotting, must be used within five days.

Spc. Rebeca Najera, blood Type O-positive, indicated she tries to donate whenever she can since her blood can be given to recipients of any blood type.

Chief Warrant Officer James Meador said often he can only donate to this blood program. Due to his overseas deployments and military vaccinations, other organizations, like the Red Cross, may decline to take his blood, he said.

Spc. Alexis Bunm, donated blood Type AB-positive. The Armed Services Blood Program estimates less than 4 percent of the population has the type, known as the universal plasma donor. AB-positive, which can be given to anyone, is often the first type administered in an emergency.

"The blood that's donated here in the military stays within the military," Burke said. "It's one family taking care of another family here."

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