blood-earlier-otto-fort

Pfc. Joseph Otto gets his blood drawn by Sgt. Victor Vasquez-Mejias during a blood drive at Fort Carson in 2011.

Civilians and service members alike are encouraged to donate blood at Fort Carson this week to support troops overseas.

Fort Carson hosts a blood drive with the Armed Services Blood Program at least once a year, said Deylon Douglass, spokesman for Fort Bliss Blood Donor Center in Texas, which covers a region including Fort Carson. Last year, 912 units of blood were collected during two visits to Fort Carson — the equivalent of 114 gallons of blood.

Last year, the post was the No. 1 contributor to the Fort Bliss Blood Donor Center, Douglass said. It’s the only place in the region that conducts a three-day blood drive.

A two-day drive is held on Fort Huachuca in Arizona, and one-day drives are held on Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, and Luke Air Force Base and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, both in Arizona, Douglass said.

The Armed Services Blood Program’s No. 1 priority is “providing blood for wounded warriors in overseas operations,” a Fort Carson release says. The program — an entity separate from the American Red Cross that’s made up of donor centers from the Army, Air Force and Navy — is the sole provider of blood to Iraq, Afghanistan or any location where there are contingency operations.

The donated blood supports military service members and families worldwide. It’s sent to military hospitals, ships, combat support hospitals and medics on the front lines.

That’s crucial because “blood is a battlefield requirement,” the release says.

Blood is delivered within four days after it was collected. It’s perishable and only lasts for 42 days. Donors are eligible to donate every 56 days.

While most healthy people can donate blood to the Armed Services Blood Program, there are some reasons a person could be prevented from donating, the release says. In general, a person must weigh at least 116 pounds, be at least 17 years old, have a valid form of identification, have not been ill for at least three days beforehand, be well hydrated and have eaten something prior to donating.

The drive will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday in the William “Bill” Reed Special Events Center, 6550 Specker Ave.

Ellie is a general assignment reporter. She's a proud Midwesterner, stationery hoarder and Earl Grey tea enthusiast. After interning at The Gazette in 2015, she joined the newspaper's staff in 2016.

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