MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Having a needle in your arm while laying in the back of a bus is no longer a frowned-upon pastime of the ‘70s; it is instead a valid means of saving up to three service members’ lives.
The Armed Services Blood Program affiliate at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is a mobile blood donation unit that allows anyone permitted on base to donate blood. Operated from two oversized recreational vehicles and a small office inside the Naval Hospital, the ASBP Camp Lejeune chapter allows service members the opportunity to give back to their brothers- and sisters-in-arms serving both overseas and within the continental United States.
“This is the second time I have seen the buses,” said Pvt. Chad Schuman, an administrative clerk student attending Personnel Administration school aboard Camp Johnson. “The first time was at (Marine Combat Training) and I didn’t get the chance to donate, but the second time around was very rewarding.”
Though the mobile donation units are available to service members on installations between Wilmington, N.C., and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, they are not exclusively available to Department of Defense personnel.
“If you can get a gate pass, you can donate,” said Cal Glazier, the blood donor recruiter for ASBP Naval Hospital. “Anyone willing to help injured Marines and sailors isn’t going to get turned away.”
Though the ASBP welcomes willing donors with open arms, there is a screening process that can either defer individuals temporarily or place them on a ‘no donor’ list indefinitely.
The screening is nothing more than an extensive questionnaire and allows potential donors to ensure that their gift of blood can be useful instead of harmful.
“If you’ve gotten tattoos in the last 12 months, have been in either Iraq or Afghanistan in the last year or have donated sooner than eight weeks ago, you’re temporarily deferred,” said Glazier. “But as you can see, that doesn’t deter a lot of these guys from helping out.”
Several of the individuals rejected from donation choose to volunteer to help run the drive and provide food and water to donors as they come off the bus. They are taught to look for signs of faintness after donation and are also responsible for handing out donation incentives like lunchboxes and T-shirts.
The ASBP mobile blood donation unit is soon to raise its donation capacity when it receives its first machine capable of collecting aphaeresis platelets, a blood component essential in blood clotting. These platelets are in constant demand, as platelets usually expire within five days of collection.
To make an appointment to donate blood or for more information about the ASBP, call 450-4628 or visit the website at militaryblood.dod.mil.