It’s a small world after all

July 22, 2019

There’s a saying in both the U.S. Army and the blood transfusion community – “It’s a small world.”

It seems that everybody knows everybody, in one way or another. John Barry, who is the Senior Manager, Hospital Relations & Distribution for South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, experienced two of those small worlds recently.

Barry was on a panel at the National Whole Blood Summit, based on his experience with the Brothers in Arms program as well as a similar system he helped implement with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan in 2012.

“I passed a guy in the hallway between sessions at the summit, and at first we didn’t recognize each other,” he said. “And then we stopped and started talking.”

Turns out, the man was Dr. Adam Olszewski, a physician from Poland who had approached Barry and his commanding officer, Lt. Col. Jose Quesada, while they were in Afghanistan in 2012 with the Army’s 440th Blood Support Detachment.

Dr. Olszewski was looking for information about implementing a whole-blood- for-transfusions program for his country’s military, and Barry and Quesada passed along what they knew. They hadn’t had any contact in almost seven years.

The doctor had learned of the National Whole Blood Summit days before the event, registered online and then flew from Poland to San Antonio. While at the conference, he presented Barry and Quesada with plaques for helping with his low titer O whole blood program.

“He invited us to a whole blood conference in Poland,” Barry said. “I asked him ‘Isn’t there a language barrier?’ and he said ‘Yes, but I’ll invite you anyway.’”

The three also took the opportunity to recreate a photo they had taken together in Afghanistan:

Master Sergeant John Barry, Dr. Adam Olszewski and Lt. Col. Jose Quesada at the 2019 National Whole Blood Summit.

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