September 6, 2006

Red Cross Relies on Students for Blood

Print More

It’s easy to think of businesses excited to see students return to the classroom; Kraftees, Hot Truck and the Chapter House are a few of the most obvious examples. One that you may not think of, however, is the American Red Cross. According to Sarah Taylor, an operations supervisor for the Red Cross, 25 percent of the organization’s donations come from the student population.
In fact, the Red Cross takes a hit when classes let out. While it generally has a two to three day supply of blood, the supply drops to one to two days in the summer. Last week to remedy this shortage, the Cornell community could roll up their sleeves — and on those cases where spurting occurred — get their hands dirty.
Last Tuesday, the co-ed service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega sponsored a blood drive in Robert Purcell Community Center that collected 57 productive units. Allison Munoz ’08, blood drive coordinator for the fraternity, said the drive exceeded the Red Cross’ expectations. Taylor was pleased that there was only one slight bad reaction. “Often we’ll see more people pass out,” she said.
The Cornell American Red Cross also hosted drives last weekend in both The Straight and RPCC, where 177 total units were collected —according to Mark Ferretti ’07, the blood services director for the Cornell Red Cross. How many lives were saved? “Multiply that by three,” said Taylor. That comes out to 531 lives saved.
The number of units exceeds the number of donors, as some students made appointments to give a Double Red Cell donation. This new procedure takes the blood, filters out the red blood cells and returns the donor’s plasma with a hydrating saline, “an energy boost without the calories,” according to a Red Cross pamphlet.
The procedure allows the Red Cross to get two productive units from the donor, prompting the Red Cross to ask, “Will you be TWICE the Hero today?”
While some donors were twice the hero, others who showed up to donate were turned away. The most common problem for these attempted heroes was a lack of hemoglobin from low iron. Other criteria for donors included an acceptable blood pressure and sufficient answers to over 20 frank questions.
When asked about Cornell blood, Taylor answered that, as far as she could tell, it wasn’t different from other blood.
“It might be smarter,” she said.
Matt Haberland ’07, who donated at the Friday blood drive, said that it was either his third or fourth blood drive. Besides the human fulfillment that comes with donating blood, Haberland also named a more tangible perk: “I like the free food.”
Typical fare for a blood drive includes juice pouches and small cookies.
Haberland first donated blood after volunteering at a drive last spring put on by the Golden Key Honor Society.
“It’s an easy way to do something good,” said Haberland.
Luis Ramos ’07 and Shannon Men ’07, two volunteers at last Friday’s blood drive, used the drive as an opportunity to learn about the medical field before entering medical school.
“You have to know that you want it,” Ramos said.
After their time at the blood drive, both expressed a new appreciation for the medical profession.
“You kind of see the humanness of being in this field,” said Men.
“Look at the big picture,” Ramos said. “It’s actually going to save lives”
The next blood drive on campus will be held Friday in Noyes, hosted by the Golden Key Honor Society.