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Defense Department to Provide Blood Supplies to Haiti

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15, 2010 – The Defense Department has ordered delivery of an initial supply of 500 units of frozen red blood cells to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, a military official said today.

With the number of wounded Haitians climbing well into the thousands, blood and medical support has become another priority in the relief efforts, Army Col. (Dr.) Frank Rentas, director of the armed forces blood program, said in a Pentagon Channel interview.

The USNS Comfort, a hospital ship home-ported in Baltimore, as well as other Navy vessels are heading to Haiti throughout the weekend, Rentas said. As of 3 p.m. EST today, those units of blood were being transferred to the Comfort from the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

“We’re still in contact [with the U.S. military in Haiti] and are going to be checking throughout the weekend to see if there’s an additional support necessary for the mission,” Rentas said. “We’re on stand by to find out whether what they have is enough blood supplies, or if they’re going to need more.”

The Red Cross estimates that 50,000 Haitians were killed in the magnitude 7 earthquake. Thousands of walking wounded throughout the island reportedly need medical treatment.

Medical assistance, food, water and search and rescue are the military’s main concerns in the initial response there, Pentagon officials said.

U.S. military support includes ground forces of Marines and soldiers focused on humanitarian assistance and search-and-rescue operations. Coast Guard and Navy vessels are operating off the Haitian coast. More than 1,000 U.S. servicemembers are providing relief efforts there, with more on the way.

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Related Sites:
Special Report: Haiti Earthquake Relief

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