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January 17, 2014

Blood donors supply gift of life for many reasons

Elisa Lombardo, right, medical technician from the Fort Bliss Blood Donor Center, Texas, inserts a blood donation needle into Whitney Cordero’s arm. Cordero received a blood transfusion in 1996, is forever grateful for blood donors and now joins the ranks of those who give back to help save the lives of others.

FORT BLISS, Texas — When the Armed Services Blood Program, or ASBP, from Fort Bliss, Texas, held monthly blood drives on Fort Huachuca, Whitney Cordero was one of several individuals who served as volunteer coordinators. Their role was to organize and schedule the many volunteers who worked at nearly a dozen annual events.

The military blood program now holds quarterly mobile blood drives on Fort Huachuca, and Cordero is now pursuing a nursing degree. However, her passion for blood drives remains unchanged, as it stems from a personal experience.

In 1996, Cordero underwent a routine medical procedure that turned into an emergency situation requiring her to be admitted to the intensive care unit where she received a blood transfusion.

“Because I was a recipient of a blood transfusion, I understand the importance of blood,” said Cordero. “Without it, I would have died. I literally was bleeding out.”

“I have a deep profound appreciation for the donors who donate blood and for the donors who saved my life,” said Cordero. “And to the volunteers who serve the donors.”

Blood donors are invaluable when it comes to saving a life. After is collected by the ASBP staff, blood is shipped to Afghanistan within seven to 10 days of collection for injured service members.

There are many reasons donors choose to roll up their sleeve and “present arms” for blood donations.

Some people donate for the service members and to show continued support to the armed services in addition to helping service members down range who may need blood. Others cite the fact that their bodies can replenish blood and that it’s a renewable resource.

Some Soldiers never donated blood until they came in the military and learn about the program in basic training. They learn that it’s a way of helping their military brothers and sisters, and some of them become the program’s best supporters even after they leave the military.

Shipping the blood overseas within days of collection means an individual can be part of the fight by supporting it. Everybody who is eligible to donate can participate in the mission, even if they aren’t down range.

Elisa Lombardo, medical technician at William Beaumont Army Medical Center, said she is grateful to see faithful donors supporting the Armed Services Blood Program at the blood drives. Lombardo said having ecstatic donors, such as Cordero, reaffirms her belief that her job is important for the military Family, and she too is a part of the mission.

“Just the reason alone that blood is going to Afghanistan is a reason to donate,” said Lombardo. “How could you not donate when you know where the blood is going?”

A few donors are apprehensive to donate blood, or are fearful of needles relating to donating blood. Lombardo said it’s up to her to help them overcome their fear and reassure them why they are here.

“I get them back to the state of why they are donating blood so they feel good about donating,” said Lombardo.

Ultimately donating blood is a mission service members, civilians, Family members and staff members can be a part of for one reason; saving lives.

“I feel so grateful for this job and to have the opportunity to be a part of this mission,” said Lombardo.

January is National Blood Donor Month and, appropriately, a blood drive is scheduled on Fort Huachuca on Jan. 28, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., at Eifler Fitness Center. Blood drive appointments are limited to the first 175 donors.

To schedule, go to www.militaryblood.dod.mil.  For more information, call the Fort Bliss Blood Donor Center, 1.915.742.6365.




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