Airmen donate at OBI blood drive

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brigette Waltermire
  • 137th Air Refueling Wing
Members of the 137th Air Refueling Wing participated in a blood drive hosted by the Oklahoma Blood Institute August 2 at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City. 

Airmen took the time throughout the day to donate blood and plasma to OBI, which supplies blood for 150 hospitals in Oklahoma, North Texas and parts of Arkansas, said Barbara Felan, supervisor for the OBI team.

The Institute also supplies blood to military hospitals such as Walter Reed National Military Medical Center; Lackland Air Force Base hospitals in San Antonio; and Joint Base Elmendorf - Richardson, Alaska, among others.

Every blood type is needed; however, there are some more valued than others in the medical world due to type compatibility. 

Many Airmen participated throughout the day. Airman 1st Class Ryan Martin, a Communications Focal Point Operator with the 137th ARW, said he donates at every opportunity. His blood type is O negative, which means his blood is universal and the preferred type for accident victims and babies. Conversely, he can only receive O negative transfusions. It is the single blood type that is only compatible with itself.

Felan and another team member, Rosie Watts, collected blood and red cell units, while other nurses screened donors. The staff works full time with OBI, and travels around the state collecting blood. 

OBI employs nearly 700 Oklahomans and works with 1,000 volunteers and 2,600 blood drive coordinators. More than 125,000 donors provide enough blood annually that scheduled surgeries in this region have not been postponed due to a lack of blood; although, cancellations can be common in other areas of the nation.