Five liters—less than three soda bottles, that’s how much blood a person has.
The body is a piece of art, one that can synthesize a fluid that constantly supplies every cell with oxygen and nutrients, removes waste, regulates heat, protects against disease, and much more. Life without blood is simply impossible.
There is a problem, though. Every year, 5 million Americans require a blood donation. That’s about 44,000 people in need every day, or one every two seconds.
There is no synthetic alternate for blood. Even the world’s most talented surgeon cannot save someone suffering from acute blood loss without help.
Help from whom?
Thankfully, in keeping with our core virtues, Saint Joseph’s is working with the New York Blood Center to bring the fight against blood loss to our community. On November 27th, the Biology and Red Cross Clubs will be hosting another blood drive in the McGann Conference Room.
The event shall take place the day before Thanksgiving, “if you want to be really thankful for your blessings, try saving a life,” says Michael Balestrieri ‘14, president of the Biology Club.
Every student, professor, and staff member has 5 liters of blood pumping through the body. The cost of saving a person (or three!) is only one hour of time and one pint of blood—considering life is priceless, the deal is a steal. Even though 60% of the population is eligible for donation, only 5% donates annually.
While nearly every unit of blood is utilized, each donation must be screened for compatibility and safety purposes. Take enough science classes, and the topic of blood types surfaces eventually. Since certain blood types are more compatible than others, it is important to realize that every donation counts, especially for donees with A-, B-, or O- blood. Those types are utilized most often due to their widespread compatibility, and are currently in shortage as a result of their demand.
Special attention should be given to O- blood—it can be administered to anyone. This is particularly important when medics are dealing with patients with an unknown blood type, such as a newborn or an unidentified patient. Using an incompatible blood type on a donee can trigger an immune response that can seriously harm or kill the recipient.
After seeing how complicated the analyses can get, it’s easy to become intimidated by the process.
Certain blood types are in higher demand than others, but nobody should believe his or her donation isn’t valuable. It must be emphasized: every viable unit is used.
Interested? Mark your calendar and stop by during common hour or a gap in class times. Just follow the trail of paper blood drops.
After conversing with the Biology and Red Cross Clubs, the Talon has compiled a rough checklist for first time donees:
-Drink plenty of fluids on that day
-Avoid eating a fatty meal prior to donation—those pesky lipids will collect in the bag and reduce the amount of usable blood.
-Bring ID (many forget this step, including returners!)
-Utilize the drinks and snacks offered after donating, they will accelerate the recovery of any lost blood volume and sugar.
The process is deceptively straightforward; however, many people still are nervous about donating. Allow us to alleviate any fears.
Donating blood is safe and conducted by trained professionals. Nurses are constantly on watch to ensure everyone is fine, and all equipment is sterile and disposed after use: no needle sharing at all.
The act of having blood drawn can be unnerving, especially to people who are afraid of needles. Laeticia Compas ’14, Vice-President of the Biology Club, once experienced similar concerns. “I hated needles,” she says, “but I realized they aren’t harming me; they’re the gateway to helping another person.”
To anyone who is on the fence: remember that people need blood for a reason. According to the Red Cross, one car crash victim struggling on the operating table might need 100 donations just to make it through. “Think of the patient,” says Laeticia, “when you look at it from a different point of view, feeling ‘hurt’ doesn’t seem like a large factor.”
As a veteran blood donor, I agree. There is a pinch, but once the needle is inside, I usually don’t feel much. Honestly, I’ve endured worse pain from stubbing my toes. I also try to view the situation from the reverse perspective, too. With only 1.5% of the population having my blood type, I pray that a unit is ready for me if I ever needed a transfusion.
With the holidays approaching, the roads are becoming icier and populated by late-night partiers–Thanksgiving to New Years is perilous for everyone and results in winter blood shortages annually.
The scary truth is that I don’t know if I will find a patch of black ice on my way home from a Thanksgiving dinner. I don’t know how many drunk drivers will occupy the same roads as my family, my friends, or myself.
The danger doesn’t stop after the New Year, though. People are diagnosed leukemia, sickle-cell anemia, hemophilia, and similar diseases that necessitate regular transfusions every day. Below, the Red Cross Club provided us with links that feature cases of people saved by donors.
Cortney Crespo ‘14, the President of the Red Cross Club advises that “people don’t realize that just with 15 minutes of time, one donation can really save a life. We hope that sharing stories of people who were saved by a donation will show others how valuable and selfless their time to donate really is.”
SJC has the potential to save 15,000 people this holiday season–let’s fight these grim statistics and make a change!
For those who are interested, but are too busy during the school week to set aside some time, scheduling an appointment outside is easy and can be done online through the NY Blood Center’s webpage listed below. I’ve donated through my school and on my own before—both scheduling methods are easy and quick.
Don’t forget to check local libraries and parishes, too, as they are bound to have some information on nearby donation centers.
Our final word is this: If anyone is able and willing—donate.
Please check out the Biology Club or Red Cross Club for more information!
By Anthony Sementilli