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What you need to stop the bleed

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Sahara L. Fales
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

According to the American Red Cross, every 15 seconds someone is in need of platelets. The primary function of platelets is to clump together to form a clot and help control bleeding. They are instrumental for surviving surgeries, and one of four major components necessary for the successful treatment of combat casualties on the battlefield.

This is why the 379th Expeditionary Medical Support Squadron apheresis donation clinic is charged with screening patients and collecting donations to be shipped across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility, in support of two Role 3 hospitals.

“Platelets have a short life span of only 5 to 7 days, so we have a continuous need for donors to participate in our apheresis program,” said Tech. Sgt. Vivian Pimentel, 379 EMDSS blood services flight chief.

Apheresis is a technology that separates blood components while the donor is connected to the analyzer. The process separates red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma by centrifugation then directs the platelets into a collection bag. Afterwards, the other blood components are returned back to the donor or discarded.

“The pre-screening process only takes about 30 minutes,” said Pimentel. “Once deemed eligible, a technician will contact you to schedule a donation date.”

Pre-screens are held from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Thursday at the 379th Medical Group, and from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. every Friday at the Base Exchange. The pre-screen process consists of completing a one page questionnaire and collecting five tubes of blood.

“The platelet donation itself only takes about an hour and we accept reoccurring donations every two weeks,” Pimentel said.

Donors will receive a patch and t-shirt with each successful donation. After five donations, the donor will receive a Letter of Appreciation. 

“Platelet donation is important because it reduces massive blood loss and decreases mortality rates,” added Pimentel. “Even just one donation can save up to two lives.”

For questions or concerns contact the apheresis team via telephone 455-5396, or by email at