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Keesler Blood Donor Center strives to save lives

Tarissa Brown, 81st Diagnostics Therapeutics Squadron lab technician, processes blood at the Blood Donor Center at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, July 16, 2019. The Keesler Blood Donor Center provides blood to deployed service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Seth Haddix)

Tarissa Brown, 81st Diagnostics Therapeutics Squadron lab technician, processes blood at the Blood Donor Center at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, July 16, 2019. The Keesler Blood Donor Center provides blood to deployed service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Seth Haddix)

Rhonda McNair, 81st Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron phlebotomist, draws blood from U.S. Air Force Airman Jace York, 336th Training Squadron student, at the Blood Donor Center at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, July 16, 2019. The Keesler Blood Donor Center provides blood to deployed service members.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Seth Haddix)

Rhonda McNair, 81st Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron phlebotomist, draws blood from U.S. Air Force Airman Jace York, 336th Training Squadron student, at the Blood Donor Center at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, July 16, 2019. The Keesler Blood Donor Center provides blood to deployed service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Seth Haddix)

Tarissa Brown, 81st Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron lab technician, draws blood from U.S. Air Force Airman Igor Houston, 336th Training Squadron student, at the Blood Donor Center at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, July 16, 2019. The Keesler Blood Donor Center provides blood to deployed service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Seth Haddix)

Tarissa Brown, 81st Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron lab technician, draws blood from U.S. Air Force Airman Igor Houston, 336th Training Squadron student, at the Blood Donor Center at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, July 16, 2019. The Keesler Blood Donor Center provides blood to deployed service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Seth Haddix)

Airmen from the 81st Training Group fill out blood donation applications at the Blood Donor Center at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, July 16, 2019. The Keesler Blood Donor Center provides blood to deployed service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Seth Haddix)

Airmen from the 81st Training Group fill out blood donation applications at the Blood Donor Center at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, July 16, 2019. The Keesler Blood Donor Center provides blood to deployed service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Seth Haddix)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

Donating blood saves lives. The Keesler Blood Donor Center strives to supply blood needed for military members.

The donor center has a requirement for collecting blood and they are always recruiting for donors. Senior Airman Alexander Stokes, 81st Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron medical lab technician, speaks on the importance of donating blood.

“The blood that is donated directly supports the down-range mission,” said Stokes. “It’s blood for our brothers and sisters in arms. One day, it could be any of us that need that blood.”

The blood donation process is highly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and other accreditation agencies.

“It all starts with planning,” said Angie Bergeron, 81st MDTS quality assurance blood services manager. “We have to decide where each blood type goes, and how to eventually distribute the blood. It’s a process that requires precise coordination.”

Potential donors must fit the requirements to donate. They undergo a screening process to ensure the donation will be safe to the donor as well as the future recipient.

The donor center collects whole blood donations and separates it into red blood cells or plasma. The Keesler Blood Donation Center is also one of a few donor centers that collect and ship whole blood products for battlefield trauma. Certain blood types are also encouraged to donate apheresis platelets and plasma with the Keesler Medical Center Apheresis department.

After testing the blood, it is distributed to Keesler Medical Center and McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, where the blood is then sent to deployed locations.

“With every unit you give, you can save up to three lives,” said Bergeron. “You can help people survive or recover from an injury.”

Bergeron believes the ultimate goal of donating blood is to save lives.

“This is life-giving,” said Bergeron. “Sometimes, blood is the only thing you need to save a life. Blood can be essential for recovery. There is no substitute for blood.”

To donate blood, you can walk in to the Keesler Blood Donor Center or schedule an appointment at (228) 376-6100. Apheresis Donations appointments may be schedule by calling (228) 376-4414.