Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S. and nearly 21 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
The Center for Multicultural Education (CME) hosted their annual Charles Drew Blood drive in honor of Black History Month on Feb. 13 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in Blum 218-219. The CME received help from the American Red Cross, which specializes in delivering vital services. The American Red Cross provides relief and support to those in crisis and to help individuals be prepared to respond in emergencies. The main goal of the blood drive is to raise awareness about sickle cell anemia, the importance of blood donation and to increase the number of African American donors.
Multicultural Education Director Latoya Fitzpatrick said what the main goal for the blood drive every year.
“The goal is to raise awareness about sickle cell anemia. We are specifically trying to get African American students, faculty, staff and community members to come up and donate blood so they can be paired with a patient that has sickle cell anemia. If not, we are still taking blood because there is a blood shortage,” Fitzpatrick said.
Blood donation is an important part of health and well being of the community. The need is constant because someone out there will always need blood. Each donation can save up to three lives, but most students aren’t in-the-know about donating.
According to Fitzpatrick, most of the minority students on campus are African American and know nothing about donating blood.
“African American students are our largest population of color on campus. A lot of students, African American students in particular, don’t really know a whole lot about donating blood and a lot of them don’t donate blood just because of the fear or stigma associated with donating blood,” Fitzpatrick said.
They encourage everyone to donate even if they do not know if they can donate or not. The nurses on staff are able to give you more information if you qualify or not. In order to donate, you have to have positive identification and weigh over 110 pounds. If you are 18 or younger for male donors you cannot be shorter than 5’ and female donors cannot be shorter than 5’6.
If you are considering donating, you cannot be taking antibiotics, have cold symptoms, have traveled outside of the United States or Canada in the last 12 months, had cancer in the last 12 months, donated blood in the last 56 days or have received any vaccine, including for Hepatitis B, in the last 8 weeks.
During this blood drive, the American Red Cross association was offering another option other than just doing the regular blood donation. If you have type O, B- or A-, you are eligible to make a Power Red donation. A Power Red donation allows you to safely donate concentrated doses of red cells. With this type of donation, they use an automated process that separates your red blood cells from the other blood components, then safely and comfortably returns your plasma and platelets to you.
Katie Enger, Account Representative for the American Red Cross, gives details on the different requirements for donating Power Red.
“Power Red only uses the blood types for the most sought after blood types for most hospitals that we provide our blood services to. Doing a Power Red, there are certain height and weight requirements which are more than regular whole blood donations,” Enger said.
When you donate Power Red, you are taking double the amount of blood so it is a longer process lasting about 30 minutes. They put your electrolytes and other substances back into your body. After the donation, you feel better and have more energy so it is a bonus of being able to give twice the amount of blood and being able to get everything back.
Enger gives insight on why Power Red is more effective than giving whole blood.
“The reason why we do Power Red is because when we give our blood to the hospitals, if there is somebody that needs a transfusion, they usually need two peoples blood. So instead of mixing two different peoples blood, it is just from one person which makes it a lot safer and more effective,” Enger said.
Taylor Carter, Freshman, enjoys being able to donate her blood for people who are in need of it.
“It makes me feel good that I am able to save lives and help people because I am giving them something that I don’t need, that they need,” Carter said.
It is important to spread the word about how crucial it is to donate blood. For more information on when the next blood drive will be held, be sure to read the Griffon Weekly that is sent to your email every Wednesday.