Service members, retirees and volunteers take part in the mission to save lives at the blood drive with the Armed Services Blood Program Europe in Wiesbaden at the lower Hainerberg shopping center on Monday, March 22.
ASBP provides blood and blood products to warfighters and service members deployed to combat zones. One pint of blood not only can save a life, but multiple lives.
Stacy Sanning, the ASBP Blood Donor Recruiter for the Armed Services Blood Program Europe says, “When someone donates one pint of blood, that blood product can be split up into three different components: Red blood cells, platelets and plasma. So one donation can feasibly go to three different people to help save and improve lives, or just be ready in case.”
Sanning also states that the blood donations from this drive will stay within the military community, including hospitals within Germany, such as Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
Signing up and taking the first step is the best step, says Master Sgt. Lewis Soto, 1st Sergeant with the 4th Air Support Operations Group in Wiesbaden.
“When registration came up,” Soto says, “I went online and registered. I set my appointment, got here fifteen minutes early to do the registration aspect, and then I went from there. Once you’re here, the process is simple and you can potentially save a life.”
With the help and support from the Red Cross and Wiesbaden community, the blood drive fills up quickly with appointments.
“Every time we come here now,” says Sanning, “our appointments fill up almost immediately because people really pay attention and they know how important it is to give back and help support our warfighters and our families.”
The community also welcomes new eligibility requirements that have been implemented into the donating process.
Sanning says, “last year, it opened up to so many more blood donors, including people who had lived overseas more than five years. It used to be you couldn’t donate if you lived in Germany more than five years, but now you can. Additionally, the wait time for tattoos and travel to malaria risk countries went down from one year to only three months.”
Donors such as Federica Lemauk, Financial Readiness Program Manager at Wiesbaden Army Community Service, are excited for these changes.
“I am so glad that they changed the rules so that I am able to donate again,” says Lemauk. “I know it helps when it is most needed. It’s a very small burden on us to be here for something that is so important. It has such a big impact.”
Because of these loosening restrictions, donors helped ASBP through COVID-19.
“We’ve been able to see a lot more donors that we never would have been able to see in the past,” Sanning states. “That has definitely helped us keep up with the military’s blood supply through this pandemic.”
Volunteer Ivan Anthony Centola, U.S Army retiree, is among the participants who sees the value in not only giving back to the community, but the military as well.
“For me,” he says, “it means after 22 years of service, giving back to the Army. The Army has given me so much, so this is a way for me to give back where I got so much from.”
Not only is the ASBP always in need of donors, but volunteers.
“We’re looking for everybody to participate,” says Centola. “If you don’t feel like donating because you don’t like the needle in your arm or anything like that, volunteer. We need people.”