Sgt. 1st Class Karl Pasco would do anything for his buddies on the battlefield.
“There’s nothing we wouldn’t do in combat to save the soldier beside us, but when we’re back here in the rear, we don’t think about going and giving blood,” said Pasco, a soldier in the Warrior Transition Brigade. “Just like we would give a little sweat and save lives, let’s give a little blood and save lives.”
After his first injury in Baghdad in 2004 when his vehicle ran over a 500-pound roadside bomb, the two-time Purple Heart recipient was able to continue to serve despite a shattered leg and severed artery with the help of blood transfusions. He deployed again in 2007. One month before his unit’s mission in Iraq was over, he was wounded by another bomb that ripped apart his jaw and right arm.
“None of the blood within me is mine anymore. It’s from somebody else,” said Pasco during a Blood Donor Recognition ceremony Thursday at the Robertson Blood Center.
Sarah Matthews, acting director of the center, said it was important to recognize members of the community for their efforts in saving lives during National Blood Donor month in January.
“We’re still sending so much blood to the soldiers that are injured in combat,” Matthews said.
A majority of the blood donated at the center is used locally at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.
Blood products cannot be stored indefinitely. Red blood cells must be used within 35 to 42 days of collection for the safety of the recipient and platelets only have a shelf life of five days. Although soldiers can’t donate immediately upon return from overseas, Matthews said it’s important for them to remember that after a year, they can help save lives while stateside.
“To me, in the past, blood donations were simply a chance to get some punch and cookies and not have to work as hard in the sun,” Pasco said. “Thinking about all the blood products that I’ve gotten, I realize just how life-giving the act of giving blood is because ... I’ve had so many transfusions (in theater and in the U.S.).”
Reflecting on the hard work soldiers do while deployed and remembering the loss of individuals from his unit, Paso said there are other ways soldiers can give.
“We would give our lives for the guy next to us in the Humvee when we’re on patrol, or we would give our lives to the guy beside us in a helicopter in combat operations,” he said. “Why can’t we talk a couple (of) minutes to give a little blood?”