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Blood drive sees success amid challenges

Published: Friday, February 21, 2014

Updated: Friday, February 21, 2014 14:02


The Leonard Carmichael Society (LCS) last week held its annual winter blood drive for the American Red Cross.

According to Red Cross Spokeswoman Jecoliah Ellis, of the 128 units of blood collected, 51 came from people who were first-time donors.

LCS holds three blood drives at Tufts each academic year in October, February and April, Ellis explained. On average, 540 units of blood are collected at Tufts through these three drives, she said.

The drives are open to Tufts students and faculty, as well as to the public, although members of the Tufts community make up the majority of donors, Susannah Daggett, the co-coordinator of the blood drive, told the Daily in an email. 

“Our hope is that those first-time donors will become lifelong donors,” Ellis said.

Zaid Qureishi, the other co-coordinator for LCS Blood Drive, explained that the Red Cross’s goal is to collect 30 to 40 units of blood per day during each of the blood drives.

According to Daggett, the organizers struggled to find a location to host the drive this winter. In the past, LCS has hosted all five days of the drive in the lounge of Carmichael Hall.

“Carmichael [is] great because you have people go[ing] there to eat,” Qureishi, a junior, said. “So people are going to go there anyway.”

However, the programming coordinator, for the Office of Residential Life and Learning (ResLife), Elizabeth Hartford, recently limited their use of the lounge to two days, Qureishi said.

“ResLife has always had a policy that no club can reserve a lounge space for more than two days in one month, but they have never enforced it for the Blood Drive before,” Daggett, a sophomore, said. “We have always been considered an exception to that rule ... This year they started cracking down on us about that.”

Organizers thus arranged to hold the drive in three different locations, according to Qureishi, including Carmichael Hall, the Alumnae Lounge and the Hill Hall lounge. He explained that these location changes were inconsistent and made it difficult for donors to locate the blood drive.

The severe winter weather posed additional problems for the blood drive, according to Daggett. The Feb. 13 snowstorm forced the cancellation of the Thursday drive and the following day’s drive had to relocate from Hill Hall to Carmichael Hall. 

“[There was] a lot of ice the next day,” Daggett said. “The Red Cross [truck] couldn’t get up the hill to access Hill Hall, so we had to change plans at the last minute.” 

According to Qureishi, ResLife gave the drive permission to move back to Carmichael Hall. 

“The Red Cross had to shut down the drive at Hill [Hall] ... and then essentially start a new one,” Qureishi said. “It took a while to restart the drive.” 

Qureishi said that the drive began closer to 12 p.m. instead of the originally scheduled 11 a.m. start time. Despite these challenges, however, the drive was a relative success, he said.

“We were still able to get the word out that the drive had moved locations,” Qureishi said 

According to Daggett, donors who had signed up for Thursday appointments agreed to come on Friday and then adapted to the location change that morning. 

“Students still turned out for the drive,” she said. “We appreciate their commitment to making the drive a success.”

According to Ellis, it is typically more difficult to collect donations during the winter due to snow and cold temperatures, as well as the flu season. This year, the impact of the weather was especially significant. Severe weather conditions have forced the cancellation of 1,500 blood drives across the nation between Jan. 2 and Feb. 17, meaning a loss of 50,000 units of blood, Ellis said.

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