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Blood donations saving lives

  • Published
  • By Laura McGowan
  • Aeronautical Systems Center Public Affairs
Blood donations have saved the lives of base military members' families.

First Lt. Robert and Kari Marlow said they are very grateful that there was blood available to save their son Anthony's life after his birth in 1999. Lieutenant Marlow, Aeronautical Systems Center's C-17 Systems Group program manager, said that two days after Anthony was born, his health was failing so badly that he was on life support.

"It came to the point where the doctors said we had a choice to take him off of life support or try a transfusion, so we decided to try the transfusion," he said.

According to Lt. Marlow, his son received enough blood to fill his small body three times over.

"Doctors said (that helping to save a life is) one of the miracles of working with children," Lt. Marlow said. Today, Anthony is a healthy 6-year-old.

Not only has Lt. Marlow personally been touched by others who have donated blood, he is very enthusiastic about donating blood and supporting the blood drives. He said he received a T-shirt, signifying that he has donated more than eight gallons of blood.

The Armed Services Blood Program office here reports that just within the last week, 833 blood products were used to transfuse 72 military members serving in Iraq. The total number of individuals who have received transfusions since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom is 45,070 and for Operation Enduring Freedom, it's 8,097.

The recipients of transfusions don't know the nationality of the person whose blood they are receiving. They do not know if the person is male, female, Air Force, Army, Navy or Marine.

If someone ever wanted to know how his or her blood donation saves lives, in a recent article in the Air Force Surgeon General Newswire magazine, Maj. Barbara Martin, aeromedical evacuation control team chief in the Combined Air Operations Center, shares some insight.

According to Major Martin, medics saved a Soldier diagnosed with a rare and rapidly growing cancer and ensured a Jordanian servicemember survived a flight home because they were able to receive needed transfusions before their flights.

"The (Soldier) needed to be immediately transported out of theater for definitive care, but his blood counts were significantly lower than the safe limits recommended for airlift," Major Martin said. "Transfusion of platelets was critical to ensure safe flight risk to move the patient overseas."