Marine, other U.S. service members donate rare blood, save Filipino girl
By Cpl. Jeremy M. Vought
| | March 28, 2006
ZAMBOANGA CITY, MINDANAO, Republic of the Philippines --
A Marine corporal was among the four U.S. service members who donated their blood March 28 to save the life of a 3-year-old Filipino girl being treated for typhoid fever and anemia at the Zamboanga City Medical Center.
The girl was in dire need of type A-negative blood, said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Frank W. Thompson.
“In the Filipino community, that means almost certain death,” he said. “Only Caucasians (normally) carry the A-negative blood type.”
Dr. Ben Caranay of the Zamboanga City Medical Center knew the only hope he had was to go to the Americans with Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines. The JSOTF-P’s medical team scanned their personnel databases and found possible donors.
Cpl. David Bombard, Petty Officer Jeffrey Simpson, Army Sgt. Maj. Robert Saiz, Army Sgt. Michael K. Light volunteered to give blood.
“Just do what you can, when you can; how can you say no to something like that,” said Light, a 26-year-old Wichita Falls, Texas, native.
They arrived to find 12 Filipino hospital staff members waiting earnestly just for them.
Before drawing blood, they met the girl they were there to help. She was confined to a hospital bed, attached to an IV, going through one of the weekly, intense fevers from the typhoid fever. She was unable to comprehend what was occurring.
Bombard of the JSOTF-P Marine Security Element has donated blood five times before, but this time it was different.
“It meant more. You knew who the blood was going to,” said the 21-year-old from Hesperia, Calif.
Each of the service members donated 450 cubic centimeters of blood.
“The hospital staff did a wonderful job at making sure the donors were as comfortable as possible,” said Thompson.
The donation brought new hope to the girl’s family, said Thompson.
“They were going to take the girl back home the next day to let her die at home because they weren’t able to find a compatible donor,” he said.
Now, she will hopefully be going home healthy in a few days.
“I have a 2-month-old son at home,” said Simpson. “I just thought about (the girl) while donating, and if the situation was reversed, I would want someone to do the same thing for (my son),” said the 28-year-old Bards, Ky., native.
The transfusion was successful, but they will know much more about the child’s progress in four to 10 days, said Caranay.
JSOTF-P members also regularly visit a local orphanage where they play with the children and bring donations from the U.S. military members, said Light.
“It will be these little things that I remember most about being here,” he said.
To Bombard, his donation was the very least he could do.
“I just donated the blood. It was the Philippine doctors who actually saved her life.”
Thompson, 28, from Beaumont, Texas, said more outreach projects like this are planned for the Zamboanga area. He will be giving the hospital expired medications in the JSOTF-P inventory, a violation in U.S. health guidelines, but a huge helping hand to the Filipino community here, as well as, taking extra time to assist the hospital with general surgery when it will not take away from his mission of the JSOTF-P military members.
All this occurred as a huge fire displace thousands of villagers here. The U.S. military and Armed Forces of the Philippines provided water trucks, emergency medical relief, 33 portable toilets and are ongoing in advising the city’s health organizations on preventative medicine. Bags of rice and clothes were also donated through personal donations from the AFP and U.S. service members.
“This showing of American presence shows that we are here to help when the Filipinos need assistance,” said Army Capt. Patrick O’Neil of the JSOTF-P medical team.
Each of the blood donors said that if given the opportunity again to help others in need they would whole-heartedly donate.
“When you go to the Pediatrics Ward and see the children in need, you’re moved to do good things for them,” said Thompson.