ASBP: She Donated for Those in Need, Then She Received
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She Donated for Those in Need, Then She Received

02/13/2017
By Jeffery Diffy, ASBP Blood Donor Recruiter, North Chicago, Ill.
Navy Aunt Amy Swingler has needed blood donations several times. She is a transplant recipient and she was formally a blood donor for others.

Her nephew, Seaman Recruit Zach Novero, graduated from boot camp Feb. 3. He also recently donated blood with the Armed Services Blood Program and prompted his aunt to share her story of helping others and when she needed blood to survive. This is Swingler’s story.

“My name is Amy Swingler and I have had a kidney transplant. On Dec. 21, 2005, I was given the gift of life from a living donor, my cousin,” she said. “Blood donation has saved my life twice — once while I was on hemodialysis, and again right after my transplant.”

Swingler said she was on dialysis for about two years before receiving her kidney. Doctors tried using shots to help build her blood, but it didn’t work. So she received several blood transfusions instead.

After the kidney transplant, Swingler also needed additional blood units transfused.

“The evening of my transplant, I was again given blood due to loss of blood during my transplant. I was put on the transplant list and was told it could take three to six years to get a transplant due to having AB-negative blood type. I was told it's a rare blood type,” she said.

Only about 1 percent of the U.S. population has AB-negative blood, making it the rarest blood type in the country. Only 3 percent has Type AB-negative. Type AB donors are also known as "universal plasma donors,” since their plasma can be given to anyone. For that reason, Type AB+ positive and AB-negative plasma is often used in emergency situations before a person's exact blood type can be determined.

“I was 18 years old when I found out I needed a transplant due to being born with a kidney disease,” she said. “But before being told about it, I donated blood as frequently as I could before being told I could no longer donate due to the decline of kidney function (The collection center) would call me every couple weeks and I would go in.”

Knowing just how important blood donors were for his aunt, Novero supported the Armed Services Blood Program Jan. 17 while attending boot camp in Great Lakes, Ill.

Novero attended the blood drive while in boot camp at Great Lakes, Ill. He will attend “A” school in the submarine electronics computer community at Groton, Conn. Although he is unable to donate blood for the next year due to a research immunization study, he will as soon as possible.

“I have donated 20 times in the past,” he said. “I have over two gallons of blood donations. I wish I could donate now. Since I couldn’t donate while in boot camp, I signed up for the bone marrow program and I am also a volunteer as an organ donor as well.”

Before he enlisted in the Navy, Novero says he worked as a lifeguard and a pool technician while growing up in St. Louis, Mo.

“I was also into video games and you could definitely say I was also a music junky,” he said. “I knew growing up it was hard on my aunt. I wanted to donate blood to help her, so I did. I’m glad she is doing well now.”

Helping others is what Novero always wants to do. He now will focus on serving his country as a Sailor in the Navy.

“I'm always telling my friends and family to make sure they are giving blood and that they are a registered organ donor due to what I have been through,” Swingler said.

About the Armed Services Blood Program
Since 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program has served as the sole provider of blood for the United States military. As a tri-service organization, the ASBP collects, processes, stores and distributes blood and blood products to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and their families worldwide. As one of four national blood collection organizations trusted to ensure the nation has a safe, potent blood supply, the ASBP works closely with our civilian counterparts by sharing donors on military installations where there are no military blood collection centers and by sharing blood products in times of need to maximize availability of this national treasure. To find out more about the ASBP or to schedule an appointment to donate, please visit www.militaryblood.dod.mil. To interact directly with ASBP staff members, see more photos or get the latest news, follow @militaryblood on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Pinterest. Find the drop. Donate.

The Armed Services Blood Program is a proud recipient of the Army Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Public Affairs award for journalism.