ASBP recognizes blood donors, thanks lifesavers

From left, Col. Michael S. Heimall, commander, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, awards a plaque to Master Sgt. Willie M. Howard, brigade medical operations non-commissioned officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Armored Division, for coordinating the CAB blood drives, as Master Sgt. Raymond R. Cortez, acting WBAMC command sergeant major, and Lori Kuczmanski, Armed Services Blood Program recruiter, pose at the 1st Armored Division Chapel. The “Iron Eagles” were the top donor for the ASBP by donating 402 pints of blood during 2013. Photo by Capt. James King, CAB, 1st AD Public Affairs.

By Staff Sgt. Kristen Duus-Vasquez, 1/1 AD Public Affairs:

William Beaumont Army Medical Center and the Armed Services Blood Program, hosted a Blood Donor Recognition Ceremony at the 1st Armored Division Chapel, Jan. 30, to close out National Blood Donor Month. More than 25 individuals were recognized as well as 29 units around Fort Bliss for their participation in blood drives.

“This ceremony was our chance to recognize our donors and thank our lifesavers,” said Lori Kuczmanski, donor coordinator for the ASBP. “We wanted to let our donors know how valuable they are.”

In 2013, the Fort Bliss blood donation center collected more than 4,100 pints of blood, said Kuczmanski. Nearly 2,000 of those units were sent to Afghanistan, while the other half went to WBAMC. Additionally, more than 700 units of plasma were sent to Afghanistan, with 600 units going to WBAMC.

The guest speaker for the ceremony was retired Col., Dr. Stephen Hetz, the Director of Medical Education at WBAMC. Hetz spoke highly of his 2004 deployment to Balad, Iraq, when he was commander of their combat support hospital.

“The year that we were there was a pretty busy time of the war and obviously as a general surgeon, I used a lot of blood products in the care of trauma patients,” said Hetz. “That year we used lots and lots of blood products.”

Hetz, who is a trauma surgeon, noted that the trauma patients are the ones who benefit the most from blood donations.

“With a severe trauma patient, the blood loss at the time the injury, or even en route to getting medical care, is usually significant,” said Hetz. “If that isn’t replaced almost immediately, the chances of survival go down significantly. When you operate, you have to be able to keep up the blood level because blood is what delivers oxygen to your body. Without it you’re lost.”

Donors at the ceremony were recognized from donating one gallon, all the way to those who have donated five gallons of their own blood. A person can donate once every 56 days, taking a little more than a year to donate one gallon.

“Donating blood directly supports our war fighters, families and retirees around the world on a daily basis,” said Kuczmanski. “There is no substitute for human blood, and we rely on healthy donors to supply our blood bank because blood saves lives.”

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