The annual American Red Cross Blood Drive brought an opportunity for students at California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) on Oct. 7 to help provide more donors for the decline that has been occurring since COVID-19.
There were 44 appointments scheduled. However, this was on the low side, seeing as the Blood Drive’s old numbers used to range from about 60-80 per day for three days. The blood drives would produce about 60 units of blood quickly, especially at universities. Now they collect about 30 units.
They’ve even had to resort to welcoming walk-ins, which are more frequent at universities. But for their offices, they prefer scheduled appointments, so it’s easier for them and makes things go by faster.
“I would want this to be, one, an education to the students for them to understand the need for blood and how ongoing it is, it’s not seasonal. And two, just let them know that we’re not only here at CSUMB but throughout the community as well,” said Patty Childress, the senior account manager for the American Red Cross.
There is a need for blood, especially after the pandemic, which decreased the number of donors. Students are usually the best donors, seeing as so many students are at the universities, which would provide more blood for those in need.
“What happens with the blood we collect, it takes three to five days before it’s actually processed and out at hospitals, so we know whether it’s a car accident, a mother giving birth or cancer patients, you name it, there’s always a need for blood,” said Childress. “Every four seconds someone needs blood, one in four people need blood in their lifetime.”
One way to think about this is many families are families of four and that means it is highly likely at least one person in your family will need blood at some point, which is why there’s such a need for it.
Even with such a high need for blood donations, there are different qualifications for the frequency any given individual can donate.
“Every 56 days, which equals eight weeks, a regular whole blood donation can be done. If you’re doing what we call our ‘power red’ which is a red cell donation that could be done every 112 days, which is 16 weeks and there are different qualifications for different donation types,” Childress said.
There are so many ways someone can help. The main easy one is just by showing up and donating, which some students have already done.
“I’ve donated blood before and enjoyed it. It’s a way to give back. I would describe it as relaxing because I can just lie down and it gives me time for my brain to shut off,” said fourth-year Sarah Anaya. “I would recommend eating before donating because you can feel very faint afterward, especially because the first time I did it, I felt very faint.”
“Nothing specific made me donate blood. I’ve done it before and like doing it. I feel it’s helpful to others. My advice for others is just to remember that this is going to help others in the future and benefit their lives,” said first-year Natalie Cortez.
If you’re looking to donate blood locally, contact 1-800-RedCross or visit RedCrossBlood.org. There’s also a blood donor app anyone can download to make an appointment. There are also blood drives frequently at HillTop Park Center in Monterey and Pacific Grove Community Center.
Make sure to check out all of these recommendations if you missed the CSUMB blood drive and want to get involved. You’ll be able to help those who are in need of blood.