LAFB Blood Donor Center saves lives
By Senior Airman Nicole Roberts , 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 02, 2009
LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Supplying life-saving blood products to warfighters in all overseas contingency operations and patients at Wilford Hall Medical Center by meeting 100 percent of the Armed Forces Blood Program weekly quota and at least 95 percent of the blood products needed here is the mission of the Lackland Blood Donor Center.
The current donor center facility opened in September 2002 and boasts the number one production record out of 22 Department of Defense blood donor centers. Approximately 1,500 units of blood are collected each month which accounts for 12 percent of the total DoD contingency quota.
The Air Force's wartime quota is currently set at 130 units of packed red blood cells per week and 48 units of fresh frozen plasma. The donor center here supplies 50 percent of that.
"A wounded Airman, Soldier, Sailor or Marine often needs more than 50 units of blood," said Capt. Anthony Polito, chief, Blood Donor Center, 59th Laboratory Squadron. "There is no substitute for human blood. Red blood cells must be used within 42 days of collection and platelets have an even shorter shelf life; they must be used within five days of collection."
Not only does the blood donor center support U.S. combat troops worldwide, it also supplies the military's stateside and overseas hospitals with blood products for daily operations. The Wilford Hall transfusion service is supplied an average of 200 units each week.
"Without the blood products from this center, healthcare providers wouldn't be able to do their work to save lives here and overseas," said Captain Polito.
The blood products provided here annually are valued at $3 million. More than 2,200 apheresis platelet products are used and equal about $1.4 million of the overall value.
The center conducts the Air Force's only apheresis pre-deployment training which has expanded to include Army units preparing to deploy. There is also a reference laboratory that provides infectious disease testing for all blood products collected by U.S. Air Force Blood Donor Centers; Brooke Army Medical Center at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas; and all collections from overseas contingency operations.
The center's plasma apheresis program is the only one in the DoD, collecting 1,500 units of rare plasma per year.
Currently there is an increased need for O negative blood donors. The Blood Donor Center must collect about 30 O negative blood units a week to support ongoing missions.
"Saving lives is what we do, but we can't do it without complete support from the military, dependents and DoD civilians," said Captain Polito.
The Lackland Blood Donor Center is open for donations Monday thru Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Military units are encouraged to schedule blood drives by calling Tracy Parmer, blood donor recruiter, at 292-8145 or the center's main phone line at 292-8100.