On Jan. 30, Pitt-Greensburg held its first blood drive, hosted by the American Red Cross, of the spring semester. During the blood drive, 29 units of blood were donated, and each unit can save up to three lives. Each semester, students donate approximately 100 to 120 units of blood, helping up to 360 people in need.
Donated blood is used for a wide variety of reasons, including accident victims, cancer patients, and patients with blood diseases.
“34 percent of donated red [blood] cells are used to help cancer patients and anyone with a blood disease,” Nurse Pam Freger, Director of the Health Center, said.
Students who are interested in donating are able to sign up by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, or using the Red Cross Blood Donor app on their smartphone. In addition to this, the Red Cross Club sets up tables across campus two days prior to each drive, so students can sign up on campus.
Students must be in good health and weigh at least 110 lbs in order to donate. However, students with low iron counts, recent tattoos or piercings, or those who have traveled outside the country within the past three years cannot donate.
Nurse Pam recommends speaking to others who have donated or signing up with a friend to help alleviate any nervousness.
“Remind yourself that you are doing a really great thing. Sometimes donating with a friend is helpful,” Nurse Pam said.
When donating, students should eat iron rich foods, drink an extra 16 ounces of water (before and after donating), eat a healthy meal prior to donating, wear comfortable clothing with sleeves that can be rolled above the elbows, and remember to bring a picture ID and blood donor card (or two other forms of identification).
Students who are unable to donate can also help the Red Cross Club during drives by volunteering to provide snacks to those donating, assisting with recruitment and sign-ins, or offering support to donors.
Pitt-Greensburg holds two blood drives each semester, so students can still donate later in the spring.
“Research states that donating blood may lower the risk of heart disease,” Nurse Pam said. “And that every pint donated saves three lives. How awesome is that?”