It looked like Mardi Gras had arrived on campus Nov. 12.
However, closer inspection showed that the USC Blood Donor Center mobile unit had set up camp in the Student Center Conference Room, and the Mardi Gras beads were being offered as incentives to prospective donors, along with USC T-shirts.
The center supplied two registered nurses and four medical assistants, who were able to accommodate up to six donors at any one time. The hard part was filling out necessary paperwork and having blood pressure and an iron count taken.
The easy part was giving the blood. The whole procedure took between 30 and 45 minutes.
As students trickled in, Sandy Hibarger the Donor Recruitment Representative with the USC Blood Donor Center issued an unofficial challenge: initially she wanted to beat the number of pints of blood collected on the center’s last visit in June, when 70 pints were donated, but she then suggested “we should start a community college competition. Last week we were at East L.A. and collected 152 pints over two days. Next week we’re at Valley.”
“There’s a serious blood shortage,” Hibarger continued. “People who lived in western Europe for five years or more from 1980 or in the UK for three months or more from 1980 to 1996 are no longer eligible to donate blood, due to Mad Cow disease.”
According to Hibarger, this is a great loss to local blood banks as a large number of people of European descent have O group blood, a universal and therefore much saught-after blood type.”Older donors are often no longer able to give blood,” said Hibarger, “and younger people just aren’t in the habit.”
Student Christine Maier, who has just been accepted into the GCC nursing program, has been in the habit since she was 18. “I began donating blood while I was still in high school,” she said.
Freshman Sam Becaria sat waiting his turn. This was his first time but he had to sit quietly for a few minutes and wait for his pulse rate to slow down. “They stick you with pretty nurses,” he complained. “Of course my pulse is high.”
“This is my third time since Sept. 11, 2001,” said Jennipha Nielsen, who decided to donate blood after the terrorist attacks. “I wanted to do my duty,” she added.
Having worked in a doctor’s office she was aware of the importance of blood donation, and when she found out she was type O negative she knew that she could make a positive contribution.
It was third time, too, for sophomore Helen Huss. “I love giving blood,” she said. “It’s not that bad and you feel good, especially with what’s going on in the world.”
Hibarger and the crew from the USC Blood Donor Center collected 74 pints of blood this visit. While the count was better than last time, Hibarger believes with an enrollment of 25,000 students, GCC should be able to do better. The crew will be back in the spring, aiming for 100 pints.
All blood collected at GCC goes to Glendale Memorial Hospital.