Story and photo by Carl Norman
Special to GUIDON
Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center officials said the Holiday Block Leave period is an especially important time to consider giving blood.
According to Maj. John Spring, officer in charge of the donor center, the attitude toward giving over the holidays “shouldn’t stop with putting presents under the tree.”
“We hope it calls everyone to help us put blood in the arms of service members and their families who are recovering from illness and injury this holiday season,” he said.
Spring added that collecting blood in December is much harder than the rest of the year because most of the center’s donor pool is away for the holidays.
“We need everyone’s help all year, but especially during the last two weeks of December,” he said. “The service members in training here are our primary donor pool. Since they leave during Holiday Block Leave, our largest source of blood donations all but vanishes, but the need for blood continues.”
To put things into perspective, Spring said during HBL nearly 6,000 units of blood will be required.
“So, you see we’re pushing a big rock up a large hill and need everyone to come help bear the load,” he added.
Blood donation hours over HBL at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital are from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 21 in the MEDDAC Classroom. Donations will also be accepted at the Blood Donor Center (at the corner of Kansas and Iowa avenues, across from Nutter Field House) from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 27 and 28.
COVID-19 mitigation measures are in place to create a safe environment for collection staff and donors.
Anyone with access to Fort Leonard Wood can donate as long as they weigh at least 116 pounds, are at least 17 years old and have been feeling well for at least three days before donating. It’s also good for them to be well hydrated and to have eaten something beforehand. They will need to bring a list of foreign countries they’ve traveled to (be sure to include when, where and for how long), and a photo ID — military ID or driver’s license — to the donation site.
All donors will receive a free Armed Services Blood Program t-shirt, juice and cookies, and a heart-felt thank you. Those completing their fourth donation at the ASBP will receive a Certificate of Achievement from the General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital commander worth five promotion points.
Additionally, Fort Leonard Wood Civilian Personnel Regulation 690-12, Chapter 8, encourages Department of the Army civilian employees to donate, allowing up to four hours excused absence for recuperation and travel to and from the donation site.
Spring said blood and blood products help patients of all ages and each unit is critical. A single trauma victim can use 40 or more units of blood and one unit of blood can sustain a newborn’s life for two weeks.
“What better way to celebrate this wonderful, giving time of year than by giving someone a second chance at life or helping them recover from injury or illness?” Spring said.
For more information, or to make a donation appointment, call 573.596.5385 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Editor’s note: Norman is the Armed Services Blood Program donation recruiter at Fort Leonard Wood.)