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...

Trump Administration Releases COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Strategy

Article
9/17/2020
Soldier getting flu shot

Detailed planning is ongoing to ensure rapid distribution as soon as the FDA authorizes or approves a COVID-19 vaccine and CDC makes recommendations for who should receive initial doses.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

MHS immunization experts will answer questions about flu vaccine

Article
9/16/2020
Soldier giving another soldier a flu shot

Real-time Facebook event set for 3-4 p.m. EDT Sept. 17

Recommended Content:

Immunizations | Preventive Health | Public Health | Coronavirus

Former BAMC COVID-19 patient now CCP donor

Article
9/16/2020
Man donating blood

When someone contracts a virus, that person’s immune system creates antibodies to fight the virus.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

New communications tool rolled out on MHS GENESIS

Article
9/15/2020
Three men, wearing masks, looking at a computer screen.

Through e-Visits, providers address questions, concerns virtually.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | MHS GENESIS

Suicide impacts us all – but there is help!

Article
9/14/2020
Man at sporting event kissing his wife and baby

September marks Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention | Coronavirus | September Toolkit

Wildfire smoke wreaks havoc on respiratory and immune systems

Article
9/11/2020
Picture of a military tent; an orange, smoky hue surrounds the tent and soldiers

State and country health advisory alerts on diminished air quality have been posted and shared to alert local populations.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus

Thirteen years ago Ft. Knox prepared for outbreak scenarios

Article
9/10/2020
Front page of newspaper

Some of the preventive measures that surfaced from the 2007 exercise included the wearing of facial coverings, regular sanitizing of surfaces and social distancing by such means as teleworking.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health

From Ghana to Washington, Sailor provides leadership during COVID-19

Article
9/10/2020
Female soldier with mask

Acquiring supplies, in general, has been a hurdle worldwide.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Health Readiness

JHIEs give providers better access to patient information

Article
9/8/2020
Man looking at X-Ray

The joint HIE securely connects DoD, VA, U.S. Coast Guard and hundreds of other select federal and private sector partners with patient health and benefit information data.

Recommended Content:

Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization (FEHRM) Program Office | Electronic Health Record Modernization & Interoperability | MHS GENESIS | Joint Health Information Exchange | Coronavirus

USU & JTS lead global COVID-19 Grand Rounds

Article
9/4/2020
Woman in hospital bed surrounded by military health personnel.

A Military Health System-wide virtual clinical case conference led by the Uniformed Services University (USU) and hosted by the Joint Trauma System (JTS) offers physicans best practices and lessons learned during the pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

DHA Director visits Naval Hospital Pensacola

Article
9/4/2020
Lt. Gen. Ronald Place saluting to soldiers

During his visit, Place showed his appreciation to those that have been committed to excellence.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

The Military Health System Celebrates Labor Day

Video
9/4/2020
The Military Health System Celebrates Labor Day

Labor Day pays tribute to the American workforce. This year, we pay tribute to the Military Health System Workforce.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Washington state’s COVID director visits Army Medical Center

Article
9/3/2020
Admiral Bono wearing a mask speaking to a soldier

Bono took note of Madigan’s flexibility in its COVID response.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

DoD closing in on COVID-19 convalescent plasma collection goal

Article
9/2/2020
Technician wearing a mask, looking at different blood products

How to help DoD beneficiaries fighting COVID-19

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

USAF doctor strives to advance women leaders in military medicine

Article
9/1/2020
Photo of Dr. Yun

While the military has come a long way regarding females in the higher ranks, Yun sees more progress to come.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Women's Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 17

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.