JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
The buzz of conversation and glow of fluorescent lights fills the small auditorium as swarms of uniformed military personnel and civilians dressed in scrubs hustle across the room - back and forth like a well-oiled machine. What at first seems to be an emergency room setting is actually quite serene. A young man casually sits ... reclining in a chair with his feet up. He playfully throws a small ball from one hand to the other, as if he didn't have a care in the world.
However, this is not a break or a time for rest and relaxation. Petty Officer 3rd Class Khalid Martinlucas, an electronics technician and student at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command, is on a mission to change someone's life.
Martinlucas, along with many NNPTC staff and students, participated in an Armed Services Blood Program blood drive and bone marrow registry hosted by NNPTC at Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station, S.C., June 24 and 25.
ASBP collects, stores and transports blood and plasma exclusively for military service members at home and abroad. The drive, staffed by civilian and military workers from the Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center, was open to staff and students at NNPTC, or anyone on base who wished to donate blood.
Technicians with the FBBDC say the turnout for the event was above average and that a high number of donors equates to a high number of lives saved.
"We do it so the blood is there when our service members need it," said Suemekia Mcleod, a civilian technician with the FBBDC.
"It is so important to come out and support our troops at events like this," said Natasha McDuffie, FBBDC phlebotomist. "If there is ever an accident or someone gets hurt, one pint of blood will help three people - it could save three lives."
Along with the blood drive, NNPTC also held a bone marrow registry for the C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program. The registration, which includes an oral swab, takes about five minutes and gives service members the opportunity to help others in a way they may not have previously considered.
"We're really trying to increase the registry," said Ens. Chris Richards, NNPTC instructor. "With more than 60 million bone marrow types, six out of 10 never find their match. The more donors we have in the registry, the more lives we can save."
Richards said there are many misconceptions about donating bone marrow. After registering, donations are only collected if a match is found. At that point, the donor will undergo further tests and briefings.
Thanks to the technicians, every donation made at the event will directly help save the lives of other service members. However, many Sailors decide to donate for personal reasons, including the personal reward of knowing they were able to make a difference in someone's life.
"My aunt was being treated for leukemia. She needed a blood transfusion but the hospital didn't have enough blood, so they were unable to save her," said Martinlucas. This event marked the second time Martinlucas has donated blood. His first donation was also through ASBP at NNPTC.
Martinlucas also has a rare blood type which he said further motivates him to donate whenever he can.
For many students and staff at NNPTC, this event was their first experience donating blood.
"If people are nervous, it's really not that bad," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Amber Shaw during her first-ever blood donation. "The little bit of discomfort is worth all the good this blood is going to do."
"If you have the opportunity to do something for someone, you should," said Martinlucas. "Pay it forward, there's no reason not to."