MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Blood; it’s the life force of the human body - precious to everyone and just one pint of blood can save up to three lives. Blood is even more precious when a service member has been injured and requires a blood transfusion or blood platelets to quickly clot a wound while deployed to a combat zone.
For those looking to support the military, but do not have the money to buy anything, blood is a simple and vital gift. Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune and the Blood-Mobile are locations where service members and anyone wanting to donate blood or platelets can stop by to contribute to the cause.
“The blood we collect through the Armed Services Blood Program goes overseas and helps service members in Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Hoiles, who is in charge of NHCL’s ASBP. “We cover areas from (Marine Corps Air Station) Cherry Point to Wilmington and all of the smaller commands and schools as well.”
A mobile blood donation vehicle, dubbed the ‘Blood-Mobile’ helps the ASBP personnel receive whole blood, a process which can take anywhere from 45 minutes to one hour. Donors are asked for their blood type, medical history, identification card, if they have traveled out of country and if they had received any tattoos recently. If deemed eligible, a unit of blood will be donated, and if the donor wishes, they can return in 56 days to donate again.
“This blood is from the military to the military,” said Hoiles. “Other organizations have different agendas, so if someone wants their blood to directly support our troops, they can come to us.”
The second form of donations that the naval hospital is in need of is platelets. Platelets are required for patients with serious medical condition as it helps the body with the clotting process.
“We started accepting platelet donations about six months ago,” said Hoiles. “The process usually takes an hour to an hour and a half, and platelet donors can donate more frequently, every 14 days.”
Donors are asked if they have taken aspirin within 72 hours as this makes them ineligible for donating platelets. Donors must also weigh a minimum of 125 lbs., and females are not eligible if they have ever been pregnant due to low platelet counts.
The donation of platelets is only done at the hospital. A needle is inserted into the donor’s arm and the blood travels to a machine which uses centrifugal force to separate the blood from the platelets. The blood is then returned to the body without the platelets. This means that a donor would not feel dizzy or lightheaded like a donor who donated full blood.
“I have a rare blood type that can benefit anyone’s type, so I decided to give platelets,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Gibson, a corpsman with the naval hospital. “I decided to give platelets because it was something they need and you can get more out of it than whole blood.”
Since women who wish to donate platelets are not eligible if they have ever been pregnant, Hoiles stated that the ASBP is looking for women who are eligible to donate.
“It’s simple, costs no money and the blood donated goes directly to our service members,” said Hoiles. “All it costs is a little time and blood.”
To donate blood, donors can visit militaryblood.dod.mil, call 450-4628 or email the naval hospital blood donor program at email@example.com.