UConn blood drive draws crowd
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2012 23:10
Hundreds of UConn students turned out at the Student Union to offer their blood to the American Red Cross from Sept. 24-28.
In the UConn student ballroom, students were questioned for eligibility behind cardboard dividers and led to about a dozen cots, where Red Cross workers set them up to donate. Waiting at the door to record students into a log were the people responsible for the blood drive, the UConn American Red Cross Club.
As explained by Diana Swinicki, the awareness chairperson and a 7th-semester allied health sciences major, “We’re a UConn Red Cross Club, and we have basically a representative from the Red Cross work with us.”
UConn hosts a blood drive each month during the spring and fall semesters, and is the largest account for blood donations in Connecticut, providing over 1,500 pints of blood last year. At this past blood drive, 450 people tried to donate, and 393 units were donated that are projected to save over 1,000 lives. These numbers are meticulously recorded and used to judge how many resources the American Red Cross will provide for the next drive. More donors means more workers and beds, which was described as a “symbiotic relationship” by UConn Red Cross President Brittany Christopher, a 7th-semester allied health sciences major.
“There’s a goal that’s set everyday, and we’ve basically hit it or been a little above it, which is awesome,” she explained, referring specifically to this past week’s drive.
Although their goal for this past Friday was 80 units of blood, and 113 students walked in, they are not guaranteed to meet the daily goal. People hoping to donate are often turned away due to a wide variety of problems. These can range from disease to low iron or a high pulse. The interview process that donors go through first checks that it is safe for the donor to have blood taken, since the blood is tested and dealt with by the Red Cross afterwards. Occasionally, students also have to leave while waiting to donate because of other commitments, a challenge for blood drives with limited workers and beds.
Regarding the problem of finding time to donate, Christopher says, “You know, it’s two hours out of your day, which is kind of a bummer, but you’re going to save three lives with that one pint of blood.”
It is not just because not all potential donors are actually eligible that the Red Cross Club tries to encourage as many donors as possible. There is also a perpetual shortage of blood available in hospitals around the country. For all blood types, hospitals struggle to provide blood transfusions, and often must delay patients’ appointments until a time when they believe there will be more blood available.
Sometimes, the Red Cross Club gets a little creative with their marketing. In April, there will be the UConn vs. Syracuse Blood Drive Challenge, where the two rivals compete to see who can provide the greatest number of donors in proportion to population of the student body. The club uses the competitive spirit in the rivalry of these two athletic giants to encourage students to give blood.
Advertising co-chairperson Kymberly Forsyth, a 3rd-semester physiology and neurobiology major, said, “For the most part it’s just a friendly competition. It’s a win-win.”
The club officers also mentioned that the winner gets a trophy.