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Why Donate Blood? I'll Tell You Why!

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- As the Transfusion Services Supervisor, at the Mountain Home Air Force Base hospital, and as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist for more than 45 years, I have formed and opinion on the importance of blood drives and donations. As you might expect, it isn't like it was in the "old days!"

I started my career as a Navy Hospital corpsman during the Vietnam War working in the blood bank at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, Calif. My job was to prepare blood transfusions for wounded Marines returning home from the war.

My other "job" was to draw, test, label and ship blood to Vietnam to save lives. I had no idea just how important my job was until my best friend from the hospital was sent to serve on the hospital ship, USS Repose, stationed off the coast of Vietnam.

He wrote me a letter one day after his 20-hour shift ended to tell me how much blood was used that day, 120 units of blood were used in just his 20-hour shift. It was all used to treat just 10 Marines! He also gave me the sad news that our mutual friend and fellow corpsman, was killed by a sniper.

I saw first-hand the efforts medics and doctors are putting forth each day at Landstuhl Hospital, Germany, before I retired. I went to teach Airmen, corpsmen and medics working in the blood bank, and came away the humbled student. I learned the difficultly in treating seriously wounded patients and saving them when short of blood and blood products.

I recalled what my friend Jerry saw 30 years ago in Vietnam, and vowed then to do my best to make sure those at my home station did not have to worry about this when I returned.

Every time we have a blood drive, I think about those patients I saw and why they are surviving such terrible injuries. I don't know how many times someone has come up to me and told me they are frightened of needles and yet they had volunteered to donate.

A young Airman working in the operating room took time to come and donate, and when they missed her vein she insisted they try again to get her blood. She told me how much she feared needles, but said the pain could not compare to what she saw in the faces of families waiting for their loved ones to come out of surgery!

This constant theme is why I have so much respect for you, not only as donors but as members of the United States Air Force. I am proud to serve you!

How to donate:

1. Go to www.redcrossblood.org

2. Click the "Enter a Sponsor Code" link (blue box).

3. Enter the sponsor code MHAFB and click "Go"

4. Upcoming blood drive(s) will display - select "Click here to schedule" link.

5. After being redirected to the Login page, enter your Red Cross credentials (email address and password). The sponsor code you entered earlier should also display. Those who have not donated before you may have to establish an account.

6. Enter sponsor code (MHAFB) click on "First time donors enter a profile" enter your information and remember your logon and password. All future blood drives that are accepting appointments will display.

7. Click on the drive date/name for which you would like to make an appointment. A list of available appointment times will display.

8. Click on the "Schedule" link for the time you would like to donate. A confirmation of the appointment will display. You will see that you have the option to print the confirmation page or download it to your Outlook calendar. You will also be sent an e-mail confirmation within the next few minutes as well as a reminder approximately one day prior to your appointment.