LCS coordinates another successful blood drive
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 00:10
Over 200 students last week participated in the Leonard Carmichael Society’s (LCS) annual five−day blood drive for the American Red Cross.
While the number of donor appointments this fall was not the highest on record, a steady flow of donations and a large number of walk−ins made the event, held in the main lounge of Carmichael Hall, an overall success, according to LCS Blood Drive Administrative Coordinator Ashley Seenauth.
The number of donors per day ranged from the upper 30s to the upper 40s, LCS Blood Drive Volunteer Coordinator Zaid Qureishi said, though exact turnout statistics are not yet available from the Red Cross.
Seenauth, a senior who is also a photo editor for the Daily, said donor numbers in the mid−40s per day is fairly typical for the event. Each donor gives one pint of blood, she added, and LCS aimed to collect roughly 200 pints over the course of the week.
LCS hosts three blood drives per year, once during the fall semester and twice during the spring semester in February and May. LCS Blood Drive coordinators set the dates for each drive months in advance to ensure the availability of space on campus for the Red Cross.
The partnership between LCS and the Red Cross has existed for decades, according to Seenauth, who has organized four LCS Blood Drives.
“Wherever they give us space, we go,” Red Cross Team Supervisor Paula Picard said, adding that high schools, churches and businesses are other popular places for blood drives.
Martine Etienne, a Red Cross mobile unit assistant, said Tufts and colleges in general serve as good locations for blood drives due to convenient parking, many potential donors on site and students who are willing to wait.
Students signed up online to donate blood through LCS’s appointment set−up on TuftsLife. While walk−ins were also accepted, appointments allowed for a quicker screening and donation process, Picard noted.
Some students are found ineligible to donate blood due to various Red Cross restrictions, including those who have traveled to areas with a risk of malaria in the past year, according to Qureishi.
Joe Hickey, another mobile unit assistant, explained that other students are unable to donate due to inappropriate sugar levels and inadequate hydration prior to donating, which render them prone to negative reactions.
“They need to eat big,” Hickey said. “Not an apple ... a meal.”
Senior Rebeccah Marrero has participated in the LCS Blood Drive since her freshman year, although her first time was unsuccessful due to low iron levels, a common problem for women.
“I didn’t really prepare beforehand, I just showed up as a walk−in,” Marrero said. “They recommend that you eat iron−rich foods like spinach or red meat for a few days in advance.”
In recent years, states throughout New England have lowered the minimum blood donor age to 16, though the Red Cross requires parental consent for underage donors.
“For the Red Cross, if they get young people early, they will continue to [donate] through high school and college,” Picard said.
Qureishi, who volunteered at blood drives at his high school, decided to continue as a volunteer coordinator when he arrived at Tufts.
Volunteers are critical for helping nurses with tasks like checking−in donors and monitoring recovering students in the canteen after they donate blood, tasks that otherwise would have to be performed by the limited number of Red Cross nurses. While donor turnouts have remained high, there has been a shortage of volunteers in recent years, Qureishi explained, distracting nurses from their primary duties.
“If nurses aren’t helping people donate, then the drive moves a lot slower,” he said.
The Red Cross supplies over 40 percent of the blood for hospitals in the greater Boston area, according to Picard.
“One unit of blood can save three people,” she said.
“Giving blood is such a simple and easy thing that most people can do without having an impact on their own personal health,” Marrero added. “So I don’t understand why people who are able wouldn’t give blood.”