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Pacific edition, Wednesday, August 15, 2007

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — With fewer eligible donors available, Okinawa’s Armed Services Blood Bank Center is kicking off a blood drive that will bring staff from the island to U.S. military bases in mainland Japan and Guam this month and next.

A blood drive at Misawa’s Potter Fitness Center on Wednesday and Thursday will be the center’s first in northern Japan in two years, according to Tracy Parmer, the Armed Services Blood Bank Center blood donor recruiter.

“With so many deployments happening on island and throughout the Pacific, we’re having to go out more (to get blood) because the island is getting depleted of people who are eligible to donate,” Parmer said Friday in a phone interview from Okinawa.

“We’re trying to increase our donor pool right now to ensure we have enough blood for the Pacific.”

Anyone who has traveled to Iraq or Afghanistan is ineligible to donate blood for one year after their return, due to potential exposure to leishmaniasis, a disease spread by sand flies. (For a full list of donor deferral criteria, check out the center’s Web site at:

The center, which makes its permanent home at Camp Lester, is the sole source of blood products for the entire U.S. Pacific Command’s 18 medical treatment facilities, supporting more than 185,000 beneficiaries.

It can draw blood only from Department of Defense personnel and dependents. “Those are the only people that get it, too,” Parmer said, noting the center can’t draw from nor provide blood to local nationals.

Blood drive participants donate a pint of blood. Parmer said any blood drawn in the Pacific stays in the Pacific. “You could save somebody’s life on your base,” she said. “That’s the ultimate reason for giving. We need everyone who’s eligible to give.”

On the morning before giving blood, Parmer said it’s important to increase fluid intake and to not skip any meals. “If you’re taking medication, it’s OK,” she said.

Upcoming blood drives

Schedule for the center’s upcoming blood drives:

Misawa Air Base: Wednesday and Thursday at Potter Fitness Center, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni: Aug. 20 and 21 at Chapel Capodanna Hall, Building 1100, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Sasebo Naval Base: Aug. 23 and 24 at the Community Education Center in Fellowship Hall, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Guam: Aug. 26 to 31, location and place to be announced.

Yokota Air Base: Sept. 2 to 7, location and place to be announced.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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