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A closer look at the Brothers in Arms Program

More car accidents during the Holidays can increase the need for critical blood.

SAN ANTONIO — Six months ago, I started a journey with the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center when I made the first blood donation of my life. You can see how that went here. At the time, I didn’t even know what my blood type was. The answer to that question opened a whole new chapter to that story.

After a few visits I had gotten pretty comfortable in the donor chair. But this time felt a bit different.

“You’re part of a very exclusive team,” Adrienne Mendoza, The South Texas Blood And Tissue Center’s Vice President Of Blood Operations told me.

“Throughout the United States, we’re one of very few blood centers that have a program like the Brothers in Arms program,” she said.

As a male with O-positive, my blood was tested for certain antibodies that could cause a bad reaction in people with certain other blood types.

“We look for the absence of those antibodies and make sure that that donor is able to give effectively a universal blood to a recipient,” Mendoza said.

Having passed those tests, my blood can be taken as “Brothers In Arms” donations which are reserved for use in ambulances and medevac helicopters in South Texas.

“We’re up to, it’s about 20 different ground agencies and a number of about ten different aircraft,” said Brothers in Arms Coordinator Daniel DeLeon.

Mendoza said that with more people on the roads during the holidays, it’s all the more challenging to keep this type of blood in stock.

“This time of year, always, but especially during the holidays, it’s very difficult for us to meet the demand if something tragic happens like that,” she said.

Anyone interesting in donating can find more information and schedule an appointment at Southtexasblood.org.