Blood donations sought for military


Published: Tuesday, April 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 31, 2003 at 11:16 p.m.
In an attempt to meet its need for blood in Operation Iraqi Freedom and other ongoing military operations, the U.S. Department of Defense is turning to civilian blood collection agencies for help.
Gainesville-based LifeSouth Community Blood Centers is one of the facilities that will begin shipping blood to six hub centers around the country for possible use by the military. LifeSouth will ship available supplies to Florida Blood Services in Tampa, which will then send the units of blood directly to the military as needed.
Type O negative red cells and type AB plasma are in short supply.
"Type O negative is the universal red cell donor and AB is the universal plasma donor," Karen Rhodenizer of LifeSouth explained Monday. "Red cell units can be refrigerated for 42 days, but typically that's where you'd run short first."
The plasma components can be frozen for up to a year.
"Giving blood is a way that you can take action to show support for our troops, because obviously it has to be available before it is needed," she said.
"Being on call to help supply blood for the military means that first we have to have our own needs met for all blood types and components, because we never know when a call from the military will come," Bill Gair, chief operating officer of LifeSouth, said.
LifeSouth supplies blood products to more than 110 medical facilities in Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
"We did ship blood during the first Gulf War, and we will always be on hand for that," Rhodenizer said.
The Armed Services Blood Program Office has also issued a plea to military members and retirees, their family members and others eligible to donate blood in military facilities to continue to give blood on a regular basis, to ensure that blood is available when it is needed.
The program distributes blood to deployed medical field units and ships, and to military medical treatment facilities around the world. When a shortage of a particular blood type arises, it has contracted to purchase blood from community centers such as LifeSouth.
Diane Chun can be reached at (352) 374-5041 or chund@gvillesun.com

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