ASBP: Where Does Your Blood Go?
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Where Does Your Blood Go?

04/12/2017
By William Sallette, Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii
Army Pfc. Rigoberto, a medical laboratory specialist, prepares Army Sgt. Dalton Carrington for a blood donation at the Tripler Army Medical Center Blood Donation Center. (Photo by William Sallette, Tripler Army Medical Center)
Army Pfc. Rigoberto, a medical laboratory specialist, prepares Army Sgt. Dalton Carrington for a blood donation at the Tripler Army Medical Center Blood Donation Center. (Photo by William Sallette, Tripler Army Medical Center)
When you donate your blood, do you know where it goes and who gets to use it?

The Armed Services Blood Program at the Tripler Army Medical Center, also known as TAMC, collects blood and other blood products for service members around the globe. The blood that the ASBP collects is heavily scrutinized and is used strictly for service members and their families.

However, sometimes the demand for blood can outweigh the supply. This is why the TAMC ASBP holds multiple blood drives and collection events throughout the year.

The ASBP provides critical services that keep service members living and in the battle. Since the Korean War, the military blood program has provided more than 1.5 million units of blood to treat sick and injured service members on the battlefield. Today, the program maintains 25,000 units of frozen blood and 5,000 units of liquid cells at all times in order to meet readiness requirements.

Because many Soldiers deploy to areas where malaria and other major blood borne diseases are prevalent, it can be difficult to collect enough blood to maintain the numbers that TAMC needs each year. If the demand for blood outweighs the supply, TAMC will have to purchase blood from other organizations that collect.

"Luckily we didn't have to buy blood this last year, but that doesn't mean that we are fully stocked," said Michelle Lele, TAMC ASBP blood donor recruiter. "Because we cover such a large footprint of the globe and have so many areas that are in need of blood, we are constantly looking for donations."

There are other organizations that collect blood throughout the islands; however there is only one organization that collects blood and blood products strictly for use by service members. However, the ASBP is also limited on where they can collect. By law, the ASBP can only collect blood on federal property.

Last year the ASBP at TAMC collected more than 4,200 blood products, 431 units of plasma and shipped out more than 1,100 units of blood to military personnel overseas.

Although all blood is made of the same basic elements, not all blood is alike. In fact, there are eight different common blood types, which are determined by the presence or absence of certain antigens.

"We are constantly in need of all blood types, however we have a special need for O-negative, A and AB blood types,” said Lele. (Learn more about blood groups and types here.)

Unfortunately if the ASBP does not collect enough blood for its service members, TAMC has to go buy blood from other organizations which can be very costly.

"This is why it is so important to donate to your ASBP," said Lele. "Our blood collection is one of the strictest in the world and donating to the ASBP ensures that your blood is going to a service member or family member that needs it."

To learn more about the TAMC blood donor center or to schedule an appointment to donate at TAMC, call 808-433-6148.

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.