Doctor shares firsthand experience of donated blood from FLW used in Iraq Print E-mail
Thursday, 16 November 2017
By Carl Norman
Special to GUIDON

It’s 2011 and somewhere in Iraq two Army general surgeons are working tirelessly to save a female Soldier with a severe wound to her heart.

Amid the organized, lifesaving chaos that is a deployed operating room, the surgeons use clamps, retractors, scalpels and other tools to help save this warrior’s life.

An estimated 40 units of blood were among the other tools used that day.

It turns out the blood used that day was collected at the Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center in Missouri.

Col. Charles Pattan, deputy commander for Clinical Services at Fort Leonard Wood’s General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital, was one of those two general surgeons.

When not deployed, he serves as GLWACH’s top doc, overseeing the facility’s medical staff. But on that fateful day in 2011, he and his fellow surgeon were walking that line between life and death.

“Unfortunately, the Soldier’s wounds proved too severe and she perished,” Pattan said. “It wasn’t due to the medical team’s care, the facilities or lack of available tools. It was simply fate. We did everything we could to save her, but her wounds were just too severe.”

Pattan said the Soldier’s family asked where the blood came from that tried to save their daughter.

He investigated and found that it came from the Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center.

“The family was grateful to everyone who donated to make blood available for their daughter,” he said. “While I was saddened that a life was lost, I was pretty proud that some of the tools we used to try and save her came from right here in my own backyard.”

According to Pattan, donating blood gives medical teams in combat zones, and other medical facilities around the world, peace of mind that they have the tools required to treat the wounded brought to them.

“Of all the things we have to work with in the medical world, blood products are the most critical,” he said. “When people don’t donate, they are potentially leaving their comrades in a place that doesn’t have all the medical things needed to save lives and that could be catastrophic.

“If we didn’t have an ample blood supply on hand that day in Iraq, that Soldier would’ve never had a chance to survive,” Patton added. “We get few opportunities to do something that’s a life or death action for someone. We’re constantly fighting to make sure we have all the tools we need to save lives.”

Donating blood is one of those tools and is just as important as having X-ray machines and surgical instruments, Patton said.

“Plus it’s the epitome of selfless service — something everyone who wears the uniform has sworn to uphold,” he added.

The Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center is one of 22 Army, Navy and Air Force facilities around the globe that collect blood for the Armed Services Blood Program, the official blood collection agency for the Department of Defense.

It is one of seven Army donor centers that support the U.S. Central Command’s entire blood requirements.

Blood donated to the ASBP helps service members who are injured or become ill in Afghanistan and other Overseas Contingency Areas.

Approximately 1-in-4 service members admitted to medical facilities in those areas require a blood transfusion.

Donated blood also helps service members and their families who are treated in military healthcare facilities across the DOD.

The Military Healthcare System requires 400 units of blood each day to meet routine requirements. All of that must come from volunteer donors.

“No one ever knows if they, or someone they know or love, are going to need blood,” said Capt. Patrick Kaer, Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center director. “But they’d want it to be there if needed. That’s why we ask everyone to consider donating. It doesn’t take much time and everyone deserves a fighting chance.”

For more information about the Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center or to make an appointment to donate, call 573.596.5385 or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

For more information on the ASBP visit This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

(Editor's note: Norman is the Fort Leonard Wood Armed Services Blood Program blood donor recruiter.)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 29 November 2017 )