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News | Jan. 25, 2024

Tripler Blood Donor Center works with Local Units to Help Military Readiness

By Khinna Kaminske

The Tripler Blood Donor Center is essential to Tripler’s Army Medical Center ability to function as a trauma center. It is important to have blood on hand and in supply for patients undergoing surgeries, cancer treatments, blood disorder treatments, and other traumas.

January is National Blood Donor Month. The monthly observance celebrates voluntary blood donors, spreads awareness, and encourages people to donate blood during critical times.

The Blood Donor Center's team consists of five active duty soldiers and three civilians, explained spokeswoman Michelle Himalaya. The team also works with navy personnel from the 3rd Medical Battalion part of the 3rd Marine Logistics Group, who assist with large mobile blood drives. In addition to collecting blood, the blood center travels twice a week to different military installations on Oahu.

“Tripler’s blood donor team also offers rotational training for other military laboratory technicians, corpsmen, and combat medics,” Himalaya added.

"We provide trauma-specific products like Low-titer O, whole blood, and cold-store platelets that help increase the survivability of our trauma patients. The blood donor center supports TAMC's mission by working with local units to conduct blood drives and prescreening that support blood units collected for ongoing military readiness, operations, exercises, ship inventory, and submarine support," said Maj. Nekkeya N McGee, 18th Medical Command Pacific Region blood manager.

Last year, Tripler Blood Donor Center provided over 500 units of blood to support military members operating throughout the Indo-Pacific Region who did not have access to blood. Through the generous donations of volunteers, the blood donor center can provide blood and plasma for those in need.

In honor of Blood Donor Month, "Why do you donate?"

Diane Chong, a long-time donor, explained that she began donating after she turned 50. She wanted to celebrate her 50th birthday to celebrate with acts of service for her birthday week—one of the days included giving blood. She was motivated by family events that occurred decades ago.

“When I was 20 years old, my grandfather needed a blood transfusion,” she recalled. “My brother donated, but I couldn’t do it. I regretted not doing that. I had this stigma about the process. I donate now to honor and remember him, and I know it’s a way to get back.”

U.S. Army Master Sgt. Brandon R. Ecker, an 18-time donor, stops by the Blood Donor Center while accompanying his wife to appointments.

"While my wife is being treated for cancer, I do what I can to help, “Ecker said, “Every little bit helps.”

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Kevin J. Downing, a pathology doctor at Tripler Army Medical Center, stops by during his lunch breaks because he knows his units can help patients.

"I donate my platelets to support blood operations," said Lt. Col. Kevin Downing.

Tripler Blood Donor Center is an official military provider of blood products and a part of the U.S. Services Blood Program for the U.S. armed forces. The joint operation provides quality blood products for service members, veterans, and their families in peace and war.

Tripler Blood Donor Center's list of services includes blood donation, platelet donation, and convalescent plasma donation.

For more resources: for the Blood Donor Pre-Eligibility Sheet to schedule your whole blood appointment or call (808) 433-6148 to schedule an appointment for platelets and convalescent plasma for more information about the Armed Services Blood Program

Don't forget to keep your family's information up-to-date in DEERS.