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(Courtesy of Keesler Medical Center, Keesler AFB)

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has announced that it needs Type O blood, and it encourages servicemembers, dependents and DOD civilians to remember that the need is always there.

“We continually send blood to the theaters, to ships, all around the world,” said Lt. Col. Ruth Sylvester, Armed Services Blood Program director. “As it gets to summer, and people have vacations, people are busy,” and donations drop.

The same thing happened after the spike in donations immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, she said.

But Type O blood is a front-line defense, Sylvester said. Type O is especially important because it can be transfused safely into everyone, of any blood type.

“There’s a disproportionate need for Type O,” she said. “When you’re unable to do testing [in a combat situation],” Type O may save someone’s life.

A battlefield injury victim can require more than 40 pints of emergency blood, she said.

All the frozen blood the military stocks, which has a shelf life of 10 years, is Type O.

“The need never goes away,” Sylvester said.

The word has gone out to all 18 military donor centers — the military and civilian worlds of blood donations are separate — to get people in to the centers to give generously.

In the continental United States, servicemembers not located near one of the 15 donor centers can give in local communities. Overseas, there are three locations. Those not near these locations must travel or wait until they return to the United States, Sylvester said.

Donation location

Donors in the Pacific can go to:

Joint Blood Program OfficeU.S. Naval HospitalOkinawaMain Number: 011-81-611-743-7737DSN: (314) 643-7737

— www.tricare.osd.mil/asbpo/

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