Monday, May 31, 2010

Blood donations made at Houchin in Bakersfield, Calif., may end up on Iraq, Afghanistan battlefield

Houchin Blood Bank / John Harte

Writing in today’s Bakersfield Californian, Maureen Buscher-Dang reveals that people who donate blood at their local community blood banks may be helping U.S. soldiers on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

As an example, she notes that during the past 18 months, Houchin Community Blood Bank in Bakersfield, Calif., has sent six shipments – each containing 15 units of blood products – to the Armed Services Blood Bank Center in Tacoma, Wash.

The center’s primary mission is to support the nation’s military operations, explained Victor Shermer, the center’s donor recruiter and public affairs officer. Shermer also is a retired Army major.

Shermer told Buscher-Dang that within a week of being drawn from a donor in Bakersfield, or someplace else in the United States, a unit of blood may be helping a soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq.

The Armed Services Blood Program relies primarily on military personnel, military families, federal employees and participants in universities’ reserve officer training corps for blood donations. But like with their civilian counterparts, sometimes there is a special need for a rare blood type and inventories run low. The Armed Services Blood Program then sends out a call to purchase units from civilian centers, such as Houchin.

“December and January are the worse months of the year,” explained Shermer. “Soldiers go home on leave. They are not available to donate. When we do not have enough to meet our quota, we purchase it.”

Maureen Buscher-Dang is a Bakersfield public relations consultant, who represents Houchin Community Blood Bank. She is passionate about donating blood and supporting our troops. Until his recent retirement, her husband, Alex Dang, was a member of the Army Reserves and completed a tour of duty in Iraq.

About the author: John Hardisty (Jack) retired as the Bakersfield city development services director in 2004. John Hardisty of Bakersfield is now a court mediator and planning consultant. His wife, Dianne, is an associate in his firm South Valley Solutions. They also write together. Dianne Hardisty posts many of their stories on her Examiner page.

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