College’s blood donations make a difference

Hundreds of people enter hospitals every day as the result of car crashes or for operations. The hospitals rely on a steady and renewable supply of blood for these patients, something harder and harder to get due to severe shortages.

However, for almost four decades College students have made it their goals to help hospitals and blood banks by running a two-day blood drive that provides much-needed donations to sick and injured individuals.

This year, the annual drive took place on Feb. 18 and 19, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“Organizing the blood drive on campus gives students, faculty and staff an opportunity to conveniently donate blood at the College, when they might not otherwise go out of their way to do so,” Carolyn Gray, Tri-Beta Biology Honor Society liaison, said.

Although final counts have not been fully completed, Asha Shah, director of the drive, estimated that approximately 120 pints of blood were donated in two days.

“The success of this year’s blood drive is due to the unparalleled solidarity of students in recognizing the dire blood shortage crisis plaguing our community and more importantly, taking action,” Shah said. “We, the students, faculty and staff of (the College) personified compassion and tapped into our humanity.”

New Jersey has recently declared a blood shortage crisis, one impetus for the campus blood drive. The Community Blood Council of New Jersey estimates that 95 percent of the population will need a blood transfusion at least once in their lives, yet only 5 percent of people actually donate blood, creating a huge deficiency and endangering lives.

In the past, the Blood Council has declared a “Code Orange,” the highest level of blood shortage, and has even run out of entire types of blood, a situation that occurred in 2006 when the Blood Council reported having no Type O blood over Labor Day weekend, a time when car crashes frequently occur.

Because blood is perishable, hospitals and blood banks face even greater pressure to maintain a constant supply, as blood becomes unusable in little more than a month.

Blood transfusions are necessary for a wide range of medical treatments, from chemotherapy to major surgery, and the average victim of a car crash can require up to 40 units of blood.

Just one donation can save up to three lives, a huge reward for a process that can take as little as 10 minutes.

“Donating blood is important because it’s kind of one of those things where no one thinks they need it until something unexpected happens,” Purak Parikh, president of Tri-Beta, said.

Many students and organizers cited the ability to impact someone’s health as their reason for donating.

Gray said, “Students should donate blood because you never know what may happen in the future. (You) or your loved ones could very well be next to need blood. In the end, donating blood is the easiest way to save a life.”

Sponsors included the American Medical Student Association, Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, Tri-Beta and Raymond Fangboner, professor of biology, who originally implemented the program at the College, assisted as adviser.

These organizations worked with the Community Blood Council of New Jersey, located just off Parkside Avenue, to collect blood and sign volunteers for the drive, which attracted more than 150 people.