Students pour out for blood drives

By Gus Bode

Not only is Bob Ferrera a donor recruitment representative for the American Red Cross, but he has also been one of its beneficiaries.

The 48-year-old said a prescription blood thinning medication caused him to bleed excessively during a routine gallbladder removal surgery in July 2007. He said surgeons used multiple units of donated blood platelets to save his life.

“If it weren’t for Red Cross platelets, I wouldn’t be here today,” Ferrera said. “There are a handful of blood donors that I’ll never meet, but I thank them every day.”

As he looked across a room in the lower level of Grinnell Hall Wednesday afternoon and saw students line up to donate blood, Ferrera said it was a possibility one of them helped save his life.

Ferrera said most of the donations in the Red Cross’ Missouri-Illinois region are from SIU, Southeastern Missouri University and high schools. But Wednesday’s blood drive in Grinnell and Lentz halls is one of the largest of the year, he said.

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Jon Spotanski, a freshman from Troy studying kinesiology, said Wednesday was the fifth time he had donated blood since he turned 16.

“It doesn’t hurt me, but it helps others,” said Spotanski, who donated at his high school’s blood drives “It’s like a roller coaster. You’ve got to trust it. These (nurses) have done this before.”

Some of the donors were not as confident as Spotanski as they waited to have their fingers pricked. The process allows Red Cross workers to decide if a potential donor is healthy enough to pledge a liter of blood.

Josh Nills, a freshman from Jacksonville, N.C., studying radiology, said he was one of those first-time donors who were a little spooked by what was about to happen. But those fears turned out to be nothing, he later said as nurses prepared his donation to be packaged into a cooler and shipped to the Red Cross office in St. Louis.

Nearly all the soon-to-be blood contributors jumped when a donor fell to the floor as a result of dehydration. Attendants quickly came to his aid, and had the young man sitting upright and drinking water within 15 minutes.

“People don’t die from giving blood,” Ferrera said.

The Red Cross distributes blood, plasma and platelets to local hospitals before sending it to areas in need, such as Houston, where victims of the recent Hurricane Ike require donations, Ferrera said.

Jennifer Freeze, the donation recruiter who worked Wednesday’s blood drive in Lentz Hall, said though blood has a shelf life of 42 days, most units are used within two days of entering an emergency room.

“We’d like to have a five- to eight-day supply of blood, but that usually never happens,” Freeze said.

Barton Lorimor can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 263 or [email protected]

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