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Dec 16 2021

Soldiers with NATO's eFP Battlegroup Lithuania donate blood TO save lives

SZCZECIN, Poland - The dark winter season has just begun. The dwindling daylight usually coincides with an increased number of severe accidents. The on-going COVID-19 pandemic has put a dent in the supply of blood products as many donors avoid blood drives for fear of infection. This makes the blood drive event organized by enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Lithuania at the Training Regiment Barracks in Rukla all the more important.

A total of 135 servicemen and women of the multinational enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup Lithuania heeded the call for blood donations. Their commander, Lieutenant Colonel Hagen Ruppelt, led by example. He noted:

We support our Lithuanian comrades not only in collective defence, but also in everyday life. This donation is a sincere gesture of our commitment.

And the donation produced immediate positive results. Dr Diana Remeikiene, Head of the Blood Centre at the Hospital of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences in Kaunas, gave her medical perspective on the successful event: 

This will help to save approximately 300 lives in Lithuania.

With a capacity of over 2,100 beds, the hospital is the largest of its kind in Lithuania. The hospital staff perform around 65,000 operations per year, making a vital contribution to the provision of health care in Lithuania. A total of eight hospital staff were on site in Rukla to make sure the blood drive, in which Lithuanian soldiers also took part, went well.

LTC Ruppelt, Commander NATO eFP Battlegroup Lithuania, leads by example and also donates blood / Photo by Dominik Fischer
All nations comprising NATO eFP Battlegroup Lithuania take part in the blood drive / Photo by Dominik Fischer 

This was not the first blood drive organized by eFP Lithuania. Since the mission began four and a half years ago, more than 800 servicemen and women from all NATO states taking part in eFP have given blood. This number includes the soldiers who participated in this year's event. "It started out very small and humble," said a representative of the Lithuanian Host Nation Support element. With each iteration, more and more soldiers began to support the good cause. "This is the eight time that a blood drive has been organized," Dr Remeikiene noted with joy. Once again, participants came out in high numbers. Captain Linda, a Norwegian company commander, was certain: "When your own life is in danger, you are happy that blood is available to save your life."

Story by Multinational Corps Northeast Public Affairs Office / Original story by Stephan Wessel (Bundeswehr)

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