U.S. troops and Department of Defense civilians stationed in Germany contribute much of the blood supplied to Army and Air Force medical facilities in Europe.

Despite a slew of restrictions — from mad cow concerns to downrange deployments — the Armed Services Blood Bank Center-Europe usually manages to obtain the 100 or so units it needs to meet the average weekly demand in Europe by sponsoring two or three drives on U.S. bases in Germany, according to Maj. Jose Queseda, director of blood services for Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

The restrictions, put in place by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002, are designed to keep the risk to the American supply to a minimum.

Americans who lived for at least three months in the United Kingdom or France from 1980 to 1996 are prohibited from giving blood to U.S.-run organizations that collect blood.

Americans who have lived for at least five years in Europe since 1980 are also banned from giving blood.

Those who have deployed to countries such as Iraq or Afghanistan — where malaria outbreaks are still a danger — are also prohibited from donating for up to a year after they return.

Queseda said that still leaves many Americans eligible to donate.

“We’re doing very good,” he said.

“But we always need donors to come to our blood drives. We have surgeries that are going on every day. We have traumas. We have people with cancer. We have sick children. There’s always a need.”

In addition to Germany, the Landstuhl facility also supplies blood to Army and Air Force facilities in the United Kingdom and Italy.

Navy medical facilities in Europe receive most of their blood from the Armed Services Whole Blood Processing Laboratory-East at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J.

Blood can be used up to 42 days after it’s donated, thanks to modern storage and processing techniques, Queseda said. But supplies can run low.

“If we don’t collect enough blood, we have to order it from the States or buy from the local economy,” Queseda said. “We try to minimize that. But it does happen.”

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.

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