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By Rebecca A. Perron

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Local Donors Recognized at National Blood Donor Month Celebration
(January 18, 2011)

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS - 1/14/2011) -- Local Armed Services Blood Program (ABSP) donors were recognized in Naval Medical Center Portsmouth's (NMCP) Apheresis Laboratory during National Blood Donor Month, with the lab's staff holding a donor open house and a cake cutting on Jan. 13.
The lab has been celebrating the January observance for several years as a way to acknowledge its donors.

National Blood Donor Month has been observed in January since 1970 in an effort to counter drops in blood donations during the winter months. Year-round blood donation is critical since the shelf life of blood is so short.

To kick off the open house, Capt. Darin Via, NMCP's deputy commander, spoke about the importance of the program and thanked the donors before cutting the cake with one of them.

"You know how passionate I am about blood donations and their use, especially for surgical services in theater," said Via, who returned last summer from a year's deployment to Afghanistan.
NORFOLK (Sept. 16, 2010) Boatswain's Mate Seaman Corbin Laudenslager donates blood to benefit Naval Medical Center (NMC) Portsmouth, Va., during a ship-wide blood drive. With the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the need to replenish the blood supply aboard U.S. Navy ships, the staff from NMC Portsmouth aims to get up to 100 units of blood during the drive. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Edward Kobobel)
NORFOLK (Sept. 16, 2010) Boatswain's Mate Seaman Corbin Laudenslager donates blood to benefit Naval Medical Center (NMC) Portsmouth, Va., during a ship-wide blood drive. With the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the need to replenish the blood supply aboard U.S. Navy ships, the staff from NMC Portsmouth aims to get up to 100 units of blood during the drive. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Edward Kobobel)
"Between the hard work by the technicians to process the blood and those who volunteer to give – you are saving lives every day, and you may not really realize you are doing that. Whether it's a trauma patient in the OR, a cancer patient on the ward or elective surgery, blood products are always needed."

Lt. Cmdr. Leslie Riggs, Blood Bank division head, also thanked the donors, saying he was especially appreciative for the repeat donors and those who donate when called because someone with their blood type is in need.

Sally Backues, a frequent donor and an electronics technician with the Navy-Marine Corps Public Health Center, and Via cut the ceremonial cake. Via then shook each donor's hand and thanked him or her individually for their contribution.

Four donor appreciation plaques were on display nearby, listing the names of the frequent donors. Seven have donated more than 25 times, eight gave more than 50 times and four donated more than 75 times.

Backues is one who donates blood regularly throughout the year, and has been doing so for about three years.

"I donate because I know I am doing something for someone," Backues said. "I come down here to donate at least once a month, and more often when I'm called because I'm a match to someone in need. I also encourage others who work here to donate."

Of the units collected at NMCP, half are used by NMCP patients or patients at other military treatment facilities, while the other half are used on the battlefield to treat service members injured there.

Units are frequently needed by cancer patients, one of whom spoke during the celebration.

"I am extremely grateful to those who donate," said Capt. Jean T. Scherrer, Transfusion Services division head and recent ovarian cancer patient. "I know I was grateful whenever I received a donation. I received four units over the course of a month early last summer. I used to be a donor, and never thought I'd be on the receiving end. Thankfully, now I'm in remission."

The ASBP provides blood products to active-duty service members and their families receiving care at MTFs worldwide. NMCP is one of 22 ASBP blood donation centers and aims to collect 500 to 700 units per month.

Donations are also collected through an ASBP mobile van that visits area installations four days a week to collect at bases as far north as Fort Lee, Va. The mobile van schedule can also be found at the ASBP site by selecting Blood Donation Centers and then Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. The site allows users to find drives, schedule appointments and track the monthly goal.

Donating whole blood takes about eight to 10 minutes, while donating platelets, red cells or plasma can take longer. Whole blood can be donated once every eight weeks, while the other blood components can be donated more often. One donation can help up to three people.

To donate blood, donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, be without infection or fever, should not using antibiotics and should generally be feeling well on the day of donation.
By Rebecca A. Perron
Naval Medical Center Portsmouth Public Affairs
Copyright 2011

Reprinted from Navy News Service

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