The Department of Defense announced today its "safety net" for obtaining blood and blood products in the event that military collection centers cannot meet the needs of the Armed Forces.
Currently, the Army, Navy and Air Force collection centers have provided a sufficient supply of blood products to meet overall needs. Military collection centers have provided all of the more than 17,000 units shipped in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Dr. William Winkenwerder, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, noted, "The need for blood products increases significantly as new operations begin or the current operations tempo increases. In such situations, the Armed Services Blood Program Office historically has contracted to purchase blood from civilian agencies." In Operation Desert Storm, the nation's last major contingency, civilian agencies provided about 20 percent of the blood that was shipped.
The Armed Services Blood Program Office (ASBPO) entered a contract with America's Blood Centers (ABC) on Jan. 27. The contract will allow DoD to purchase blood products from ABC to satisfy its requirements for blood products in the event those requirements exceed DoD's collection capabilities. No requests have been made at this time. ASBPR continues negotiations with other civilian agencies to contract for supplemental blood purchases.
ASBPO coordinates blood collection and distribution for DoD. America's Blood Centers, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a network of community-based, non-profit blood collection centers. Its member centers collect about 50 percent of the blood collected in the United States.