Back to Top Skip to main content

Bliss blood program faces supply shortage; begins testing for coronavirus antibodies

Person giving blood The Armed Services Blood Program at Fort Bliss, Texas, routinely hosts blood drives with their blood donation bus, as well as welcomes donations at the donor center located at 2489 Ricker Road, next to the Fort Bliss Army Community Service. (Photo by Michelle Gordon, Fort Bliss PAO)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

As the United States enters the fourth month of a global pandemic caused by the new coronavirus, it also faces a nationwide blood donation shortage, which includes blood collected for service members deployed overseas.

To encourage donations, as well as assist current COVID-19 patients with recovery, the Armed Services Blood Program at Fort Bliss, Texas, recently started screening all blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies.

"With the COVID-19 antibody testing, the patient experience is exactly the same as a traditional blood donation; there is nothing different," said Army Spc. Christi McRae, a laboratory specialist with the 440th Blood Support Detachment at Fort Bliss. "The blood is sent to an offsite testing location to see if there are any antibodies within the plasma. If there are, it indicates the patient came into contact with the COVID-19 virus at some point, and their body has built up antibodies to fight against it."

McRae said the antibodies do not indicate immunity from the virus; it simply means the patient was exposed to it.

She said, "It could mean they had it and recovered, or they just came into contact with [the virus] and their body was able to react and develop those antibodies without actually getting ill."

After donation the patient will not be contacted again if their blood tests negative for coronavirus antibodies. If it tests positive, they will be called and encouraged to donate plasma, because research shows the antibodies help current coronavirus patients recover much faster.

"Your body is super intelligent," McRae said. "Once you have been exposed to something you make those antibodies, so, when and if you come into contact with it again, your body already has an answer and knows how to react. We do not know how long COVID-19 antibodies remain in each individual's system, so it is important to donate blood soon after recovery or suspected exposure."

McRae hopes the antibody testing will encourage more people to donate blood because the Defense Health Agency has been tasked to collect 10,000 units of COVID-19 antibody-containing plasma before Sept. 30.

The Armed Services Blood Program at Fort Bliss routinely hosts blood drives with their blood donation bus, as well as welcomes donations at the donor center located at 2489 Ricker Road, next to Army Community Service.

Army Staff Sgt. Chris Frost with the 2nd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment said he saw the blood donation bus parked at Freedom Crossing in mid-July.  He stopped to donate because he has blood type O negative, which he said is always in high demand.

"A few minutes of my time could mean the lifetime of somebody else because this blood is potentially on its way over to Afghanistan to save somebody's life. So, a little bit of my time to save some of my brothers, I'm okay with it."

"Nearly all of our blood products collected here are sent down range to serve the service members," McRae said. "Even though we are here fighting COVID-19, we still have missions around the globe. We have to keep that in mind and make sure we have the life-saving blood products we need to ensure our men and women come back home safely."

You also may be interested in...

Benefits Eligibility for 32 USC 502(f) Missions

Publication
4/14/2020

A chart outlining the various Benefits Eligibility for 32 USC 502(f) Missions

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | TRICARE Health Program

Memorandum on Providing Federal Support for Governors' Use of the National Guard to Respond to COVID-19

Publication
4/14/2020

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Military hospital dials in virtual healthcare to combat COVID-19

Article
4/13/2020
Technician standing at a computer

At BAMC, traditional face-to-face appointments for most routine care have increasingly shifted to virtual care to ensure social distancing as well as patient and provider safety.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Technology | Heroes Behind the Mask

inTransition Teams Up with the Veterans Crisis Line to Support Service Members in Crisis

Article
4/10/2020
Image of smiling woman with telephone headset sitting at her desk

In response to an increased volume of calls to the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), inTransition is partnering with the VCL to coordinate certain types of care for active duty service members.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Mental Health Care | Suicide Prevention | September Toolkit

Army Corps Launches Alternate Care Facility Construction

Article
4/10/2020
Image of three men in construction gear standing around plans

Building health care facilities isn’t a new task for USACE, which has years of experience designing and building hospitals and clinics for the military health system.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health

Delegation of Authority for Reserve Component Activation Authorities during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Response

Publication
4/10/2020

This delegation assigns to the Service Secretaries the authority to activate Reserve Component personnel and to modify their orders as needed to employ and retain them for the COVID-19 response.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Stay Home Slide Show

Video
4/10/2020
DHA Seal

Slide show of photos from BAMC's #stayhome campaign

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Guardsmen Remain Adaptable in Face of Coronavirus

Article
4/9/2020
Image of two soldiers organizing medical supplies

More than 28,000 National Guardsmen are helping to fight the coronavirus across America

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Defense Health Official Urges Personnel, Families to Wear Face Masks

Article
4/8/2020
Image of a soldier wearing a face mask

The face-covering mask can be fashioned from simple household items.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Talking to children about COVID-19 helps them feel safe and secure

Article
4/8/2020
mage of a mom and two kids sitting on house steps

USU expert advises tailoring messages for different age groups

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Authorization to Employ Military Medical Capabilities to Treat COVID-19 Patients

Publication
4/8/2020

Effective immediately, the Commander, U.S Northern Command, is authorized, as he deems necessary and appropriate, to employ military medical capabilities under his operational control to treat patients who have contracted coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Joint Staff Surgeon Praises Americans Stepping Up to Help COVID-19 Victims

Article
4/7/2020
Image of hospital staff holding a meeting

It's about people helping people, flattening the curve, and slowing the spread of the pandemic so hospitals have a bit more time to prepare.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Decision Memorandum on TRICARE Implementation of the "Families First Coronavirus Response Act"

Publication
4/7/2020

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Public Law 116-127, Division F, Section 6006(a), limits TRICARE authority to impose copayment or other cost-sharing for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) testing and related provider visits that result in orders for or administration of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved, cleared, or authorized diagnostic products. In order for the Defense Health Agency (DHA) to implement, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs (ASD(HA)) must acknowledge the self-executing authority of the statute and direct the Director, DHA, or designee, to issue guidance implementing the statutory provisions.

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | Coronavirus

New York City emergency room doc joins Air National Guard as flight surgeon

Article
4/6/2020
Image of flight surgeon

Paladino is Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and also at Kings County Hospital Center.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Heroes Behind the Mask

DoD Guidance on the Use of Cloth Face Coverings

Publication
4/5/2020

Effective immediately, to the extent practical, all individuals on DoD property, installations, and facilities will wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance in public areas or work centers (this does not include in a Service member's or Service family member's personal residence on a military installation).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health
<< < ... 21 22 23 24 > >> 
Showing results 301 - 315 Page 21 of 24

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.