Blood Drive Has Lower Donor Turnout Than Usual

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Dark clouds gathered together in bunches on Feb. 27, threatening to bring rain. But inside the student center at the Blood Drive, most of the people donating blood were filled with cheer and altruism.

“I just thought I would do a good deed,” said Shayla Smith, 21, a theater arts major. “I think [donating blood] is a privilege for those healthy enough.”

Zechariah Gelber, 21, undecided major, said, “It’s nice to give to other people, and this is one way to do that.”

However, motivating people to give is not quite so easy. Joseph Leon, mobile operator for the crew collecting blood, said that the turnout for Thursday’s blood drive seemed lower than usual.

“Usually, the place is packed,” he said. But at 1 p.m., the waiting area had more empty seats than filled ones. Nicole Knighten, who organized the blood drive, stood outside the doors with other volunteers, verbally inviting people passing by to give blood.
Bad weather that day may have contributed to the lessened numbers, but there are other obstacles.

According to the American Red Cross Web site, every two seconds someone in America needs blood, but a nationwide shortage in the blood supply exists.

The reason for the shortage is not a lack of blood, but a lack of people, Knighten said.

Donors must weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health, at least 17 years old and without hepatitis or tattoos and piercings within the past year.

“Alot of people are ineligible to donate, and those that are able to aren’t donating,” said Knighten.

She also said that donating blood is a “matter of civic responsibility. Hospitals can’t produce blood. We need people to give blood.”

Andre Bitmayl, 23, business administration major, said he would not give blood because he “didn’t know they were doing it, but even then, I’m too scared of needles. It’s also kind of inconvenient.”

Margo Wall, a volunteer at the blood drive, said the entire process takes about 45 minutes, with most of the time going towards a battery of questions, which are used to ensure the donor’s eligibility, and a mini-physical that includes checking blood pressure, pulse and temperature.

Wall said depending on the person, the actual giving of the pint of blood could be as quick four minutes, or at its longest, 15 minutes. That pint of blood can save three lives, according to Knighten.

But Knighten said that many potential donors are hampered by fear.
“You feel a little pinch, but the actual pain is only 30 seconds, and considering you’re saving three lives, it’s very minimal,” Knighten said

She added that she has only seen minor reactions to donating blood. Those were due to the donor not eating a good meal o not drinking a lot of fluids before donating.

“Eat a good nutritious meal, not just a pop-tart, especially if you’ve never donated, Knighten said.

Knighten organized the blood drive, which was from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., to supply blood for Glendale Memorial Hospital.

Blood donors gave one pint of blood, which according to Knighten, can save three lives.

Knighten also emphasized the importance of area residents supplying blood to local hospitals. According to Knighten, this is not only to help the institution, but also to aid family members or friends in case of an emergency.

“You don’t want to be one of those people on the operating table [when] they run out of blood,” said Blake Selover, 21, a business major, as he lay on a gurney donating. “It’s an epidemic, they just don’t have enough blood.”

Travis Lamoureaux, 19, an economics major, said he saw the signs for the blood drive as he was walking around campus and, with some time on his hands, decided to donate.

“I have blood and I can give it,” he said. “I know if I needed blood, I’d hope that someone would donate it.”
People can give blood every six weeks, and Knighten encourages them to “do it as often as possible.”

Knighten said the next blood drive will be held April 22. Anyone interested in sponsoring or organizing the next blood drive can contact Knighten at (213) 840-5158.