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Exceptional Family Member Program hosts blood drive Sept. 16 at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston

By David DeKunder | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | Sept. 8, 2020

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —

Blood donors are needed as the Joint Base San Antonio Exceptional Family Member Program is hosting a blood drive from 8-11 a.m. Sept. 16 at the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Military & Family Readiness Center, 3060 Stanley Road, building 2797.

The blood drive is being held in observance of Blood Cancer Awareness Month and in conjunction with the Exceptional Family Member Program, or EFMP, and the Armed Services Blood Program, or ASBP, at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston that supports Brooke Army Medical Center.

EFMP provides comprehensive and coordinated community support, housing, educational, medical and personnel services to families with special needs. ASBP is the military’s official blood program, providing quality blood products for active-duty members, veterans and their families.

All blood donations will go towards ASBP and Brooke Army Medical Center for patients in both the military and community populations who are treated at the hospital.

Sally Gonzalez, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston M&FRC EFMP manager, said the blood drive will be conducted adhering to COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing guidelines in the M&FRC auditorium, which will allow for four blood donation stations to be set up and be spaced out more than six feet apart.

JBSA members wanting to donate blood for the blood drive must make an appointment at http://www.militarydonor.com by clicking on the “locate a drive” link, using sponsor code FSHEFMP. For more information, contact JBSA-Fort Sam Houston M&FRC at 210-221-2705.

Gonzalez said blood donors will be required to wear masks entering and leaving the M&FRC and before and during the time they will be giving blood. There will also be controlled entry and exit points at the M&FRC. Blood donors will be taken into the auditorium for their appointments every 15 minutes.

Military medical lab technicians with the Akeroyd Blood Donor Center, which is part of BAMC, will be collecting the blood from donors inside the M&FRC auditorium.

Mark Salcedo, ASBP public affairs specialist/blood donor recruiter, said blood donors will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies. He said those donors who test positive will be contacted within 10 to 14 days and will be given information about and the opportunity to donate plasma to the COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Program, or CCP.

CCP is a Department of Defense program that provides the plasma with the antibodies to military treatment facilities around the world to treat service members and their family members who test positive for COVID-19.

The DOD has set a goal of collecting 10,000 COVID-19 CCP plasma units by Sept. 30, to contribute to the readiness of the force and to be able to provide plasma to 100 percent of eligible beneficiaries who have tested positive for COVID-19 at MTFs and at ASBP Blood Donor Centers around the world.

Salcedo said blood drives are important for the ASBP program in carrying out its mission of providing quality blood products for BAMC and for deployed servicemembers overseas.

“Our sole and primary mission is to take care of the blood needs for BAMC,” Salcedo said. “Blood drives are always critical for us because of the trauma mission and the mission of the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center at the hospital.”

Gonzalez said EFMP is conducting the blood drive during Blood Cancer Awareness Month because of the impact the disease has had on military families, including those who have children with special needs. Nearly 1.3 million people in the U.S. are affected by some form of blood cancer.

She said this is the third year that EFMP has held a blood drive at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.

“We thought it would be a great way to promote blood cancer awareness but also meet the needs of our military and special needs community that needs blood supply,” Gonzalez said.

For more information about the blood drive, go to http://www.militarydonor.com. Information about ASBP is at https://militaryblood.dod.mil. Anyone who has travel or medical questions about donating blood can call 210-295-4655.