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NEWS | Feb. 7, 2014

There will be blood

By 2nd Lt. Alexandra Trobe Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Facing a potential blood shortage, military installations around the country have been scrambling to get more people to donate blood.

Medical officials at Joint Base Charleston say they normally run low on blood supplies in January after the holidays, and this year, their demand has increased significantly.

Service members choose not to donate blood for a variety of reasons, but at the end of the day it is important to remember the purpose behind why we donate blood and how it benefits our deployed troops in need. By increasing our knowledge of the blood donation process and working to overcome our personal misgivings, everyone should be able to donate their blood for this worthy cause.
Some people are afraid to give blood because of an aversion to needles, or they believe the process will be too painful. This is the most common concern for people who do not wish to give blood. A lot of people share those fears and are still able to give blood.

According to surveys conducted by the American Red Cross, people who give blood report they feel a very slight pinch at the needle insertion. After 10 minutes, they are finished and wondering why they were afraid. The technicians at the blood draw sites are trained to make the process as painless as possible.

The survey also indicates that participants enjoy the rewarding feeling of donating blood more than their dislike of the discomfort of needles. According to the American Red Cross, an average blood donation of approximately a pint can help save up to three lives. In the United States more than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day to maintain the necessary blood supply.

"Although an estimated 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate, less than 10 percent do each year," said Julie Oliveri, director of communications and marketing, Armed Services Blood Program Office.

It is the responsibility of qualified service members to step up and help out this worthy cause.
Another reason people claim they do not want to blood because is because it takes too long.

Many service members are surprised to learn that the blood collection process takes only about five to 10 minutes, said Oliveri. Additionally, the entire donation process, from registration to post-donation refreshments, takes just under one hour.

Although the process may initially appear to be lengthy, the pre-medical screening is a vital part to ensuring the best quality of medical care. Ultimately, it is a small price to pay for the lives being benefited through the donations.

Another common misconception about blood donation is that it will make the donors weak. For many, this is a key factor preventing them from stepping into the medical facility and donating blood.

The body has an incredible ability to regenerate and is constantly producing new blood cells. According to the Armed Services Blood Program, the body makes about two million new red cells every second, so it doesn't take long to build up stores of them again. It only takes 24 hours for the donated blood to be replenished by new blood.

Although each body is different, the average donor has about 10 pints of blood in their system, according to ASBP. Only one pint of blood is taken during the donation process. After the donation, it is suggested that donors rest and consume provided food and drink in order to properly recover from this temporary loss of blood.

Donating blood can be an anxious time for first time donors, but the highly trained and professional medical staff will be able to address concerns of pain, timeliness and weakness.

It is important to remember how important it is to sacrifice our personal time and resources to those in need. It is a responsibility for service members to take care of their own and the ability to donate our blood to our brothers and sisters downrange is a significant contribution to the mission.

JB Charleston's next blood drive will be March 12 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Air Base Fitness and Sports Center.