The Keesler Blood Program: Providing the tools of life

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Devyn Waits
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

January is observed as National Blood Donor Month, a time to honor voluntary blood donors and spread awareness of the necessity for blood donations.

Keesler Air Force Base’s blood program is actively engaging in the month’s observance by providing additional opportunities for individuals to donate.

“For this month and the rest of the year, we’re opening up availability at the Triangle Clinic since it’ll be easier for us to reach our target audience of tech school students,” said Master Sgt. Daniel Roman, 81st Medical Group Blood Donor Center section chief. “We’re also currently working on getting some patches for people to show and be proud of what they’re doing.”

Outreach is critical to increase awareness of the blood program’s life-saving mission.

The Keesler Blood Program is part of the Armed Services Blood Program, which falls under the Defense Health Agency. The ASBP consists 20 tri-service blood donor centers around the globe and provides blood resources where they are needed.

At the hospital on base, the blood can be used by paramedics when a service member has an injury and needs a transfusion right after they’re brought through the hospital doors or for a mother in labor who’s experiencing complications. Many uses for the center’s collection can also be found far outside Keesler.

“The blood we’re collecting is going to our service members,” said Maj. Ryan Comes, 81st Medical Group Blood Donor Center officer in charge . “If you walked into our door to donate a unit of blood, it could end up in combat zones next week, go to special forces, or it can be used for someone who was injured in a military vehicle. In fact, with some of the situations across the globe, it can be used for our international partners.”

The base’s blood program relies on those volunteering to become regular blood donors to meet the program’s needs.

“It is important to donate blood because it has a shelf life,” said Comes. “Blood typically lasts under 45 days. Even though blood can go over to our medical facility, our primary mission is to send it to our warfighters across the globe. By the time it gets down range, the blood has 30 days of shelf life. Fortunately, donating blood consists of taking about an hour out of one’s day, every two months, to have their blood collected. Even though that person won't know where their blood will go, they can leave the building knowing that it's being used to save someone’s life somewhere around the world.”

To donate blood, call (228) 376-6100 to schedule an appointment or walk-ins are accepted from 8:00am – 4:00pm at the Blood Donor Center, located at the Arnold Medical Annex behind the Meadows Drive tennis courts.