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Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg, Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2009 –
As Armed Services Blood Program officials join with the rest of the nation in observing National Blood Donor Month, the program’s director expressed gratitude for the more than 165,000 donations from Defense Department military, civilians and their families in 2008.
“January is designated every year as a special time when the Armed Services Blood Program, as well as the other blood donor programs, commemorates our blood volunteer donors; they are actually the core of our program,” Army Col. (Dr.) Francisco J. Rentas told “Dot Mil Docs” audio webcast listeners Jan. 27 on BlogTalkRadio.com.
“It means a time to officially say thanks for what [blood donors] are doing,” he said.
The blood program is a joint Army, Navy and Air Force operation, and includes 23 donor centers worldwide and many components among the services to collect, process, store, distribute and transfer blood.
Rentas encouraged people to get involved, not just in January, but all year long.
“Give blood as often as you can,” he said. “You can donate blood every eight weeks. One donation can actually save three lives.”
Blood is critically important and always needed for troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the doctor said, and a recent advancement is helping wounded servicemembers survive by enabling deployed medical teams to store blood in special containers that maintain the proper temperature under austere environments.
“We have been using small containers for special missions that can keep blood at the right temperature for three to five days,” the doctor said. “What is really unique about this is no ice, no electricity, no batteries [are required], but you can keep blood at the right temperature for a few days.”
(Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg works in the New Media directorate of Defense Media Activity.)