Military Seeks Blood Donors to Combat Shortage

Military Seeks Blood Donors to Combat Shortage

Soldier giving blood
Photo by: Emily Jennings

Military officials are asking for blood donors to step forward in the new year, especially as the force continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The public health guidelines to reduce interaction with others, social distancing, reducing time outside the home … it translates into a decreased donor turnout,” Col. Jason Corley, director of the Army Blood Program, said in a press release. “We’re no different from our civilian blood agency counterparts. They’ve been experiencing the same things since March.”

The pandemic has surged during the winter months, and blood drive cancellations have again increased, Corley said. “In December and January, historically, even without COVID, that’s always a low turnout period due to the holidays, people going on vacation, and due to the weather,” he said.

“Everybody’s trying to do the right thing. Commanders and donors want to be safe and healthy,” Corley said. “It makes it difficult to continue and schedule blood drives. It’s just harder to meet our required quota numbers.”

Quarantines, restricted movement and changes in health protection levels have also affected blood donations, said Mark Salcedo, a blood donor recruiter with the Armed Services Blood Program, which has 21 locations worldwide.

When ASBP cannot collect enough blood from donors, the blood bank must reach out to other military donor centers for blood or try to buy blood from the civilian market, Salcedo said.

“I’ve been at this nearly 40 years both in and out of uniform,” Salcedo said. “I can say this has probably been one of the toughest years for the blood program and for many donor centers. But our leadership and our staff members continue to fight every day because they know the value in what we do for our health care mission.”

For more information and to find a blood donor center, click here.