Daily Egyptian

SIU community answers call for blood

Daily Egyptian file photo

Daily Egyptian file photo

By Diamond Jones

Every two seconds someone is in need of a blood transfusion, according to the American Red Cross.

So this week, members of the SIU community are helping fill this need by lending an arm to the Red Cross.

“Our mission is to help save lives,” said Jennifer Freeze, a recruitment representative for the American Red Cross. “The three days that we have here at SIU are definitely helping stock the shelves of local hospitals.”

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During the summer, fewer people donate blood — often because of vacations and seasonal events  — causing a shortage in supply this time of year, Freeze said.

Freeze, who has worked SIU blood drives for eight years, said high schoolers and college students make up about 20 percent of the blood supply obtained.

But of the 38 percent of the population over the age of 16 eligible to donate blood medically, only 5 percent of those individuals actually take the time to donate, she said.  

“I know people need blood and not a lot of people give it,” said Jacquelyn Clardy, a freshman from Pope County studying radiology who has donated seven times. “In high school I was involved in helping with blood drives and I’ve became interested ever since.”

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Donors are first required to fill out a questionnaire to ensure their blood is safe to take. Then, once they’ve filled a pint-sized bag, the fluid is tested to assure it is OK to transfer to someone else.

Freeze said the blood is separated into three components: red blood cells, which can be given to car accident victims, platelets, which can go to cancer patients and plasma that can be available for burn victims. This means every donation can help up to three people, according to the Red Cross.

With the presence of health risks, such as HIV and more recently the Zika Virus, Freeze said the organization takes on full responsibility to make sure people are honest about their history when donating.

“The tests that we run have gotten so sophisticated over the years that screening out health problems, such as hepatitis or HIV in blood, are legitimately secure,” Freeze said.

As of this year, the Red Cross does not permit people who have traveled to areas where Zika is prevalent — such as South America or Mexico within the past month — to donate, she said.

When individuals are finished donating, which takes an average of eight to 10 minutes, according to the Red Cross, they are offered an assortment of drinks and snacks and advised not to participate in strenuous activity for the next few hours.

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The third and last on-campus drive of the week is from 1 to 6 p.m. Wednesday at Lentz Hall.

On Sept. 9, the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts is hosting a drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We would ultimately never want to hear about there being a blood shortage again,” Freeze said.

Staff writer Diamond Jones can be reached at [email protected].

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