SAN DIEGO --
On average, Naval Hospital San Diego collects about 2,860 pints of blood per year and without the selflessness of recruits, none of that would be possible.
Recruits of Alpha Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, had the opportunity to donate blood during Team Week at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Aug. 8.
“The blood that we receive from the recruits goes all over the world,” said Petty Officer First Class William N. Figueroa, corpsman, Naval Medical Center San Diego. “It goes to any service member or their dependents.”
To begin the process, recruits who volunteer are brought into a room and undergo a screening process to ensure they qualify to donate.
“We ask them if they have left the country, been sick, had any surgeries, basically anything that could have contaminated their blood,” said 28-year-old Figueroa. “We need to make sure they are healthy before we take their blood to give to someone else.”
After the blood is drawn, it is packaged up for transport and ready to be used for any number of emergencies or needs.
“I am honored that I could donate blood,” said Recruit Richard Martinez, Platoon 1006, Alpha Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion. “I joined the Marine Corps to help people, and I already get the chance to do that before I graduate.”
The blood collected could be used during surgeries at any Naval facilities or be shipped overseas into combat areas for service members who need it, according to Figueroa, a native of Merced, Calif.
“Even if I don’t know where my blood is going, I know it is out there somewhere,” said Martinez, a native of Los Angeles. “That’s a great feeling.”
The Navy uses not only the blood, but also separates the transfusable components such as red blood cells, platelets and plasma. These components have different properties that individuals may need. Primary components like plasma can be manufactured into Cryoprecipitate, a source of fibrinogen, which is vital to blood clotting.
Because recruits donate such a high volume of blood, the Navy saves money by not having to purchase it from other companies.
“Recruits are our biggest contributors,” said Figueroa. “They really do generate a lot of blood, and it is very much appreciated.”
Although recruits of Alpha Company have done their part during the blood drive, they still have recruit training to push through before earning the title Marine.
“I am definitely going to donate blood again in the future,” said Martinez. “It is for a great cause, and I love helping people.”