On today of all days, as I write this column on Veteran’s Day, I am reminded of the enormous impact our veterans have made on this country. They put their lives on the line so that we may enjoy our freedoms and way of life. As members of the blood banking community we also realize that veterans paved the way for modern transfusion technologies. During World Wars I and II the critical need for blood on the battlefield progressed transfusion techniques and allowed for the organization of the blood banks we know today.
For many of us, our veterans are also loyal blood donors. We see them at our blood drives and in our blood centers. Despite the frequent deferrals due to travel restrictions, they know all too well the importance of having a robust local blood supply available in times of need. The reality is that non-profit local blood banks serve a significant purpose in their communities and provide more than just blood, but also the “insurance value” of blood. This term refers to the medical and economic benefit of having a local and robust blood supply available at any time and in the case of emergency for our hospital partners, as opposed to the value of transfusion in a given time frame.
Local blood banks are first responders and part of the emergency preparedness systems in their communities. A truly effective emergency response system must have a viable donor base on hand for potential disasters that could create significant increased blood usage instantaneously. This same dynamic holds true for our military when they are on active duty. They donate because they realize that you never know when someone will need blood due to injury in the field.
As stewards of the blood supply the conversation with local policy leaders and other first responders must continue to emphasize the importance of our local blood banks to keep our communities safe. The common goal of providing a safe and adequate blood supply that supports the communities in which we live, must not be overlooked despite our fiscally challenging environment and industry consolidation. Our veterans have served this country with pride and honor. Their service reminds us of the importance of community and keeping our local patients safe; as our veterans have kept our country safe. We thank them for their service and their many sacrifices on this Veteran’s Day.
Robert Scanlon; Board Member; rscanlon@BBAK.org