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Camp Pendleton Marines and civilians donate blood to save others

Two people in masks giving blood U.S. Navy corpsmen prep volunteers to donate blood and be tested for coronavirus antibodies outside of the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Marine Detachment on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California in August. The event was hosted by the Armed Services Blood Program. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Drake Nickels)

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The COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP) Collection Program is a Department of Defense effort to obtain 10,000 units CCP with emphasis on blood donations by members of the military community who have recovered from the disease. CCP will be given to critically ill patients, and to support the development of an effective treatment against the disease. Potential donors should visit the Armed Services Blood Program website at: https://www.militaryblood.dod.mil/Donors/COVID-19andBloodDonation.aspx - to find a complete list of available collection centers.

Earlier this month, the Armed Services Blood Program hosted a volunteer blood drive and coronavirus antibody test at the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Marine Detachment on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.

“Today is a very special blood drive,” said Cesar Fontanilla, a blood donor recruiter with the ASBP. “This blood drive could help collect plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients.”

Once screened, each donor gave one pint of blood, which could save up to three lives.

The ASBP takes the blood and tests it before accepting the donation for use. As part of the process, all donations are now being tested for COVID-19 antibodies. The antibodies would be present in the blood if the donors have been exposed to COVID-19 and have since recovered. The ASBP test for the COVID-19 antibodies along with other illnesses that they typically test for, like gonorrhea and HIV.

After the blood is processed and has been screened for any disqualifying illnesses and COVID-19 antibodies, the ASBP will notify the donor with their results. If the antibodies are present, the ASBP will ask the donors to optionally donate their blood plasma.

“We aren't testing to see if you have COVID-19, rather we’re testing to see if you had it,” said Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jayden Ryan, petty officer in charge of the Military Blood Program, Naval Medical Readiness and Training Command San Diego. “Later we can use the antibodies from the donors that had COVID-19 to treat someone who may have a worse case.”

The ASBP donation center only accepts donations for military members and their dependents.

To schedule a center to come to your unit contact your local blood donor recruiter by visiting Militarydonor.com.

For more info on donating, visit www.militaryblood.dod.mil.

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