CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan – --
The Armed Services Blood Bank Center plays a critical role in the Pacific region’s mission readiness by supplying blood to all aspects of the military in the Pacific. Since 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program has been the sole provider of blood for medical use to the military. The organization collects, processes, stores, and distributes blood worldwide.
MCIPAC Public Affairs sat down with Petty Officer 1st Class Oscar Valdueza, the lead petty officer and public affairs specialist for ASBBC, Okinawa, Japan.
Q. What is the ASBBC?
A. The ASBBC is the blood donor center which collects blood three to four times a week from status of forces agreement personnel throughout Okinawa. We support the whole of the Pacific region.
Q. Why is it important to the readiness of the Pacific region?
A. It is important to operational readiness and battlefield success. The bank is here so that if blood is needed then it can be supplied quickly and effectively.
Q. Where do these blood donations go?
A. We supply all the operations and exercises the military conducts in the Pacific along with military hospitals and ships that come to Okinawa. Some of the exercises we support are Freedom Banner and Cobra Gold.
Q. How are the donations used?
A. The donations go to operational use but they also go to the hospital in support to a least 200-250 beneficiaries and retirees that may need the blood. The blood at the hospital may be needed for a variety of reasons such as a birth or a car wreck. During exercises and live-fire trainings, units request blood in case of emergency, they want to be prepared to save a life if needed.
Q. How many donations are needed in an average year?
A. In an average year we need about 36,000 units of donations. We try to get 300 units a month. Each pint of blood is a unit and each unit can save at least three lives.
Q. Who can donate to ASBBC?
A. You have to be 17-years-old and SOFA personnel eligible to be seen at the hospital to be eligible to donate at the ASBBC.
Q. How often people donate?
A. Donors can donate a pint of blood every eight weeks.
Q. What restricts a person from donating?
A. The big ones are no tattoos within a year, couldn’t have been sick for 72 hours and if you have traveled within the year. There are some travel destinations that have sicknesses that will make the donor ineligible to give for a year or two.
Q. Where can a person go to donate to ASBBC?
A. We put a schedule out every week of where we will be holding blood drives. We hold blood drives three times a week. You can call and make an appointment with the center and we also do walk-in donations at the center twice a month.