SAN ANTONIO – As requests for COVID-19 convalescent plasma spiked in late spring and early summer, the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center needed more support, so a team from Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston stepped in and played a crucial role in collecting and distributing convalescent plasma.
Twelve soldiers spent 30 days helping at the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center.
“Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought that I would be sitting at a donor center, like, trying to collect convalescent plasma that would change the lives of a lot of people,” said Stephen Freed, bioscience sergeant at U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, where soldiers work with researchers and scientists and specialize in different areas.
Freed was part of the team of soldiers that helped at the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center in San Antonio. They assisted from July 6 to Aug. 6.
Freed helped wherever they needed him, including drawing blood.
“Between all of us, we actually pulled in almost about 1,000 donors of blood draw that we did for them,” Freed said.
Freed said this helped thousands of people.
“They were on a waiting list for five days before they actually got the convalescent plasma. And since we got boots on the ground, we got it where they were getting almost to same-day turnaround,” Freed said.
For some soldiers, this was more than a mission.
“A lot of us that have actually been impacted by COVID, and I know that we had soldiers that have lost their family members to COVID,” Freed said.
Freed said this job also helped soldiers gain experience for future deployments where they would need to collect blood during a mass casualty event.
They expect to help the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center again.