Naval Hospital works to replace aging blood supply

4 Apr 2003 | Sgt. Jerad W. Alexander

The Naval Hospital here is currently setting up a new blood donor operations center to replace aging stocks of blood for use abroad. 

The center's goal is to collect 6,000 units of blood yearly to replace aging supplies aboard amphibious assault ships, said Navy Capt. Pat Alford, executive officer, Naval Hospital, Marine Corps Base.  Stored blood has a 20-year life expectancy, and coordinators here are encouraging active duty service members, reservists, family members, and civilians to donate blood to revitalize the stocks.  They plan to begin collections at the center May 1. 

The new center is an extension of the Armed Services Blood Program, a service designed to collect blood donations for military use worldwide.  The Naval Hospital will join the 81 blood banks and donor centers across the globe, said Raymond Applewhite, public affairs specialist, Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital. 

The operations center's construction is divided into three phases.  Phase one, scheduled for completion May 1, will initiate the limited blood collection at the Naval Hospital.  Phase two involves establishing temporary facilities outside the hospital while permanent facilities are constructed, which will complete phase three.

While the goal is to get as many donors as possible, there are some restrictions.   Potential donors who've visited foreign countries with disease problems are not allowed to donate blood, according to Cal Glazier, blood donor recruiter, Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital.  All potential donors will be screened prior to giving their blood for their safety and the safety of those who may rely upon it in the future. 

"All eligible personnel are encouraged to donate blood," said Glazier.

The Naval Hospital is eager to begin receiving blood donations and will make arrangements for units to set up collection dates based on operational and training schedules.  Units or individuals interested in donating blood should call 450-4505/4506.