Soldier participates in blood drive.jpg

Soldier participates in blood drive. 

Kenner Army Health Clinic is partnering with the Fort Bragg, N.C., and Portsmouth Naval Hospital blood donor centers to conduct an installation blood drive on July 31 and Aug. 1, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., at Larkin Hall, building 1102, 3501 A Ave.

Linda Ellerbe from the Defense Health Agency blood program and Capt. T’Andrea Graham, chief of Patient Administration at Kenner, are organizing the mission-critical event.

The collected products will go to the Armed Services Blood Program, which supplies DOD health care facilities around the world. It also supports deployed forces and high-OPTEMPO organizations such as the Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg. There is a critical need for blood products as donations have greatly decreased due to COVID-19.

There also is a push to collect 8,000 donated units of plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to support the development of an effective treatment against the disease. ASBP centers across the U.S are working diligently to contact donors who have recovered from the virus and ask them to participate in the collection of “convalescent plasma.”

“I will be making contact with those who have tested positive for COVID-19 at Fort Lee and ask them to donate,” Ellerbe confirmed. “Additionally, we ask everyone to come out to donate so we can establish a viable donor pool (those with antibodies) at Fort Lee to produce convalescent plasma.”

All blood donations collected will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies. If they exist in sufficient quantities, the donor will be informed of the results and asked to participate in the COVID-19 convalescent plasma program.

Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of blood from people who have recovered from a disease. Antibodies present are proteins that might help fight coronavirus infection. It is being investigated because there is no approved treatment for COVID at this time. There is information that suggests it might help some patients recover.

The community is assured social distancing will be practiced throughout this two-day event. At the blood drive, staff members will wear appropriate personal protective equipment and have been screened.

Interested donors are encouraged to make an appointment online at www.militarydonor.com, but walk-ins are welcome.

Those who give blood must be at least 17 years old, weigh 110 lbs or more, free of current flu/illness conditions, and able to report they have not recently traveled to high-disease-risk areas. Women who have ever been pregnant may require additional testing to determine if HLA antibodies were developed since last giving birth.

The donor requirements for convalescent plasma collection include a confirmed diagnosis of coronavirus resulting from a diagnostic test (e.g., nasopharyngeal swab) at the time of illness or a positive searological test for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies after recovery. Complete resolution of symptoms at least 14 days before the donation also is a must. A negative result for COVID-19 by a diagnostic test is not necessary to qualify the donor.

Those who believe they meet the convalescent plasma donor requirements can contact one of the blood donor centers (contact info on military donor website) for additional information, and if they qualify, to set up an appointment. When they show up at the blood drive, the donor must bring the required documentation and undergo the standard donation procedure.

“I can’t emphasize enough how great the need is right now for donations,” Graham said. “We’re asking if you are able and eligible, please consider donating on one of the days available. Take the time to help us stand mission ready.” 

The Army Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. Raymond Dingle, stated in a memorandum to senior commanders, “The ASBP is asking for your help to encourage military and DOD Civilian personnel to support its blood drives whenever possible, especially now. This is the time to encourage the community to step up and donate during the global pandemic. The need for blood donations has not diminished.”

Blood donation is a mission-essential activity.  It is safe to donate and collected products are safe for use. ASBP clinics have taken steps to provide additional safety measures to the donation environment. Please join them in their mission to save lives.