Recently, the Red Cross has expressed an emergency need for blood nationwide. The shortage is not something Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River are immune to. As such, the need to donate blood has become more important than ever.
“The same barriers to donation exist on installations as it does on the civilian side of the blood industry with possibly a few more hurdles to overcome,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Leslie Riggs, Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune (NMCCL) blood services department head. “Deployment works ups, training, exercises, CFA, PFA and much more all encroach into a military member’s ability to attend a military blood drive. This is further exacerbated by the fact that the military work week often exceeds 40 hours and military families often have additional stressors that take time away from them donating. This is where command leadership and their support for blood drives is absolutely essential to the success of the military blood program and its mission of providing blood supplies for service members and their families as well as retirees.”
Riggs also acknowledged the role NMCCL’s use of new technologies plays in the current need for blood.
“A good portion of the blood collected on MCB Camp Lejeune and MCAS New River is stored here at NMCCL,” Riggs said. “NMCCL is using a fairly new product called low titer O whole blood (LTOWB). It has already proven very useful in stabilizing trauma victims allowing them to be transported to higher levels of care such as Vidant and New Hanover Medical Centers. Over the past few years, LTOWB has emerged as the most efficacious and expedient blood product used in theaters of operation. What better than to train your military physicians here at NMCCL preparing them for using LTOWB down range while providing the same benefits of that product to military and civilians in our area?”
The introduction of LTOWB has provided a few challenges for NMCCL’s supply of blood. However, command has played a large part in organizing drives. What’s essential is participation from members of the community to ensure their success.
“We are balancing a growing local need for this product while still producing enough to meet our mandated blood production quotas to support operational blood support requirements,” Riggs explained. “In short, we need the support from the installation commands and to date, we have been getting just that. Occasionally, last minute work up or training requirements come into play and causes one of our blood drives to be unsuccessful. The best way to make a blood drive successful is to have full support from the leadership and have it added to their training, education and exercise plan minimizing last minute interruption… With NMCCL’s fast growth, blood donations on the installation will become even more critical.”
The role individual units play in helping ensure a functional supply of blood was not understated by Riggs either.
“Units holding a blood drive also help that unit’s physician to identify the most safe blood donors to donate during emergent situations downrange when the blood supply is exhausted or the logistical blood supply chain cannot meet the demand,” Riggs said.
Riggs also noted that Marines and Sailors are doing a serious service to the community by giving blood.
“Marines and Sailors that donate to the NMCCL blood donor center support NMCCL’s ability to provide care locally and it also supports the operational medical units by giving them the blood they need to care for them if they are injured while deployed,” Binder said. “It also provides blood for their families and retirees.”
To donate blood, contact Wendy Binder at 910-777-1502 or at email@example.com.