Story Number: NNS140207-27Release Date: 2/7/2014 11:32:00 PM
By Douglas H. Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs Officer
BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Hospital Bremerton's (NHB) support of the Armed Services Blood Program recognized two members of the Laboratory department for their volunteer efforts, Feb. 7.
The Armed Services Blood Bank Center Pacific Northwest of Madigan Army Medical Center, Joint Base Lewis-McChord had held a Donor Appreciation Day a week earlier to thanks those 'for joining the arms race,' and NHB passed on a sizable trophy to Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Roberto Mangahas and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Matthew Naffin as driving forces behind the command's involvement in holding quarterly blood drives.
"Our command gave up over 252 units last year, one of our best years ever. The blood collected helped the Armed Service Blood Processing Lab provide blood products worldwide, including those injured in theater. To all those that donated in 2013, thanks and bravo zulu. Your donations are making a difference across the planet. What a great way to give back. A special shout out and Bravo Zulu to our blood drive coordinators. Their time and dedication is truly appreciated," said Capt. Christopher Quarles, NHB Commanding Officer.
According to Naffin, a Camas, Wash. native, the NHB blood drives averaged from 44 to 63 units and the amount collected for 2013 showed an improvement from the previous year.
"We have had a slight but steady increase in units donated by this command over the last couple of years which is a good thing. Awareness is vital to the success of the program. The more people know about it the more units we can collect that can be used by those who need it most," said Naffin.
As the primary blood drive coordinator at NHB, Naffin handles all communication requirements on a pending blood drive.
He visits clinics and wards, posts notes and flyers, shares with department heads and division officers, and even engages in a constant word-of-mouth campaign.
"The most important aspect of this program is getting the word out and bringing people in to donate. We are surrounded by people who are willing to donate. They just need to know about the blood drive and they will be there," Naffin said.
The overall mission of the Armed Services Blood Bank Center is to operate a Tri-Service staffed regional blood donor center which collects, tests, and distributes blood and blood components in support of contingency and peacetime operations worldwide.
NHB is a perfect setting to accommodate the mission needs.
"It's really nice of the Armed Services Blood Bank Center and MAMC to recognize everyone across the region who helped with this program. We can get three or four products from just one unit, and it all helps to save lives. Most, if not all, of the product is sent from up here down to Travis Air Base and then directly shipped on to Afghanistan," said Lt. Cmdr. Leslie Councilor, Laboratory department head.
One pint, or unit, of donated blood can not only save up to three lives, but can also be separated into multiple, vital components of red blood cells, plasma, platelets, and cryoprecipitate.
The red blood cells carry oxygen to the body's organs and tissues.
Plasma is a mixture of water, protein and salts and make up approximately 55 percent of the actual blood volume in the human body.
Platelets help promote blood clotting, and cryoprecipitate, which is collected from plasma that has been frozen, then thawed, is a crucial coagulation agent.
Councilor attests that since most of the duties performed by the laboratory staff are accomplished behind the scenes their Blood Drive efforts are a tangible, visible display for not only command members but visiting beneficiaries.
"Much of what we do as a whole isn't seen by most, but when we hold a Blood Drive on the quarterdeck, everyone here that day can't help but notice and that helps attract donors," Councilor said.
"It definitely helps our recruiting efforts to have the event out front rather than in the lab. Anything and everything we can do to remind people is really beneficial. We get tried, true, repeat customers and always hope to expand the reach," Naffin added.
Along with staff members that are known to donate on a regular basis, there are also patients that get involved.
"We do have the occasional patient ask when they are in to get their blood drawn if we do a blood drive here and if so, can they participate. Since we do this on a quarterly basis, we share the information of the next time as much as possible," said Mangahas, from Los Angeles, adding that if a person has donated before, their contact information has been included on a data base to receive an email informing them of the next Blood Drive.
"We also add that if they can make it, try to bring a co-worker, friend or family member to also give the gift of life with their blood," stressed Mangahas.
Compiled statistics show that about one in seven people who enter a hospital like NHB will need blood.
That's stateside-relevant data, not related to forward operating bases, combat outposts and trauma team settings in Afghanistan.
"The most gratifying part is knowing that the blood collected will be used to save lives and it doesn't get better than that. When I checked into the command in 2011 the position of blood drive coordinator was coming open and I volunteered for it," said Naffin. "As a lab tech I have seen and been a part of the blood going through the process from start to finish. I have drawn donors at the blood drives, gone back and processed it into different blood products, and issued the blood out when it is needed. I have (also) been able to see and been a part of helping someone out that has needed the blood."
Naffin does see people who are hesitant to donate.
They explain that they are not sure they want to due to the size of the needle or the thought of losing blood.
He had one person he had been encouraging to donate finally do so this last drive.
"He told me it was not bad like he thought it was going to be. People do show up to give for different reasons but the main one is that they know that their blood could be used to save someone's life. There is no better reason than that," said Naffin, citing also that it takes about an average of five minutes for the actual blood donation.
The actual steps in the entire process start with going over a donor's medical history, then a quick physical, followed by the actual donation and then wrapped up with a snack and a brief rest until given the okay to continue on.
The next NHB Blood Drive is slated for Feb. 18, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Those who wish to donate can simply walk in that day, or even go to www.militaryblood.dod.mil and set up a profile and make an appointment.