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The Armed Services Apheresis/Blood Donor Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) celebrated a newly renovated space with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Feb. 26. The upgrade was designed to enhance amenities and enable more blood donations at the center.

To kick off the event, WRNMMC Director Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Jeffrey B. Clark cut a bright yellow ribbon at the entrance to the center. Mary Lewis, an apheresis nurse specialist, and Keith Krueger, design project manager from Facilities, joined the director in cutting the ribbon. Both were cited as instrumental throughout the renovation process. Medical center staff toured the enhanced center, shared cake and conversation as they scheduled appointments for future donations.

The donor center collects blood products such as red blood cells, plasma and platelets, that support both Walter Reed Bethesda as well as Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia, said Army Lt. Col. Robert K. Pell, chief of WRNMMC’s Blood Services. Pell stated Walter Reed Bethesda transfuses approximately 7,000 blood-related products per year at the medical center, in addition to blood quotas that supplement deployed facilities in combat zones.

Pell explained the recent renovations of the donor center offer better lighting, and a more open layout, allowing a more streamlined process for donors. As the donors enter the center to make a donation, they can now pass through the front door and enter the interview area to move onto the collection area. The supply and testing area, in the back of the center, has also been upgraded with an enhanced heating and cooling system.

“With this recent renovation, almost two years in the making, we’re very excited to continue supporting those in need of our services, and to be doing so in a functionally and esthetically improved space,” Pell said. “It’s a much more efficient space.”

Donating blood and platelets continues to be a vital service, he added. The Armed Services Apheresis/Blood Donor Center collects and provides blood products for transfusions in the medical center’s operating rooms. These procedures support wounded warriors returning from overseas and supplies clinics and wards, where blood is needed. The blood service also supports three different programs in its teaching mission to provide blood bank training.

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Robert Bernosky, a surgical technician in the Main Operating Room said, he understands first-hand, the need for blood products at the nation’s medical center – and that’s one reason why he comes in almost every two weeks to donate platelets.

About two years ago, the corpsman started donating platelets, which have a shorter shelf life, and can be donated more frequently than whole blood, according to Bernosky. At that time, the number of wounded warriors was much higher, and nearly all who were inpatients at the medical center needed platelets, he continued.

“I started doing it for them,” he said. Bernosky added that the number of wounded warriors has, thankfully decreased, but there is always a need for blood products.

Another reason he donates, is because internal donations help save the medical center money. “We’re able to treat our wounded warriors here with donations we get in-house,” Bernosky said.

Pell agreed, expressing his gratitude for all donors at WRNMMC.

“We appreciate the unwavering support from each and every one of our dedicated donors,” Pell said. “It’s truly a pleasure to re-open our doors, and we’re honored to serve our population of military members, retirees and their families.”

The Armed Services Apheresis Donor Center is located in the Arrowhead Zone, Building 9, first floor, in Room 1671. For more information about the Armed Services Blood Program, visit www.militarydonor.dod.mil, or call 301-295-2104.