Navy gives OK to hold community blood drives on Beaufort bases

For the first time, Beaufort Memorial Hospital's blood supplier has been granted permission to hold blood drives at Beaufort's three military bases.

The Blood Alliance, the sole provider of blood to Beaufort Memorial Hospital and other area hospitals, will hold a blood drive from 8 a.m. to noon today at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

"The Blood Alliance has been negotiating with the Navy for some years now to try to make this happen," said Sallie Stone, the alliance's donor resource consultant at Beaufort Memorial Hospital. "We've been hoping for a chance to strengthen our partnership with the military and expand our donor pool. We're very excited about this opportunity."

The Navy and the alliance signed a two-year agreement in July to hold blood drives at all three Beaufort bases. Today's drive at MCAS Beaufort will be followed by another at Naval Hospital Beaufort on Dec. 4. Stone said the alliance hopes to host similar drives at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.

"We get an opportunity to vastly expand our pool of potential donors because there are so many active-duty and retired Marines, as well as civilian employees working on those bases," Stone said. "For the Navy, it's a chance to be able to increases its blood supply because now we will be able to supply them with blood should they need it."

It is unclear why the Navy didn't allow the blood drives before because Naval Hospital Beaufort officials were unavailable to be interviewed Wednesday.

Capt. Josiah Nicely, spokesman for MCAS Beaufort, said today's drive will be a chance for air station Marines and civilian employees to help the community, as all of the blood collected will be used at Beaufort Memorial Hospital.

"Donating blood is a simple, life-saving act that exemplifies our motto of Semper Fidelis: always faithful," Nicely said.

The recent agreement is one of many between the area military and Beaufort Memorial Hospital, said Courtney McDermott, hospital spokeswoman.Existing agreements also allow Navy orthopedists and obstetricians to perform all joint replacement surgeries and deliver the babies of local service members at Beaufort Memorial Hospital, she said.

Blood Drives