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The blood gateway

  • Published
  • By By. Staff Sgt. Ashley L. Gardner
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing/Public Affairs

There is a small team of Airmen who volunteer their late nights to make sure the one thing we can’t live without gets to the right places and people throughout U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility. That one thing, blood.

The Airmen and volunteers here conduct a critical and far reaching mission from the 379th Expeditionary Medical Group Blood Transshipment Center. This BTC is the largest in the Department of Defense and the central point of storage and inventory assessment of all blood products in the AOR. The BTC ships and receives over 3,500 blood products a month to support more than 85 sites.

“Volunteers help with our shipments,” said Staff Sgt. Nashane James, 379th Medical Support Squadron non-commissioned officer in-charge of the BTC. “They verify and organize units by blood type and expiration date. This helps speed up our process greatly.”

While the volunteers’ job is to help stock and organize, they are also a helping hand in supplying the blood to the 379th EMDG hospital and to 72 Forward Operating Bases, including seven Mobile Field Surgical Teams. They make sure the blood supply is not expired and is stored correctly.  

“It’s the small things that really help make this an outstanding opportunity,” said Staff Sgt. Maricar Borgonos, BTC volunteer. “Even as a volunteer, our role has a great impact on the mission, making sure we organize the blood correctly and keep it at a certain temperature is critical.”

Since March, the blood products stored in the BTC have already saved over 160 lives and supplied needed blood products for more than 1,452 transfusions in the AOR.