At this moment, a cancer patient could be starting treatment. A child could be getting into a car accident. A pregnant woman could need surgery. And if these people live or die could come down to one thing: blood.
Whether it be in surgical procedures or medical treatments, blood is often a vital component to the patient’s prognosis. The need for blood is constant. Therefore, volunteer blood donors are essential to preventing blood shortages. In an effort to help provide more blood donor volunteers, Ramapo College’s Alpha Phi Omega and Alpha Kappa Psi co-sponsored a blood drive this past Monday for the American Red Cross.
For a five hour window, members of the Ramapo community made their way down to the Alumni Lounges to take a few moments out of their day to potentially save lives. According to the American Red Cross’ website, “Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.” The need may arise from surgery, pregnancy, car accidents or other events, and without blood many people’s livelihoods could be jeopardized.
The American Red Cross’ website also states, “Red blood cells must be used within 42 days (or less),” and, “Platelets must be used within just five days.” Thus, blood is perpetually in demand and because blood is not manufacturable, health care providers rely on volunteers to treat patients.
Volunteers at Ramapo’s blood drive had to begin by checking in. Walk-in registration was welcome, but donating blood does require a certain amount of preparation and consideration beforehand.
“You need to make sure that you're well hydrated and that you eat beforehand so you don't pass out,” said junior and president of Alpha Phi Omega Rebecca Foster. “If you have cold symptoms, if you gave blood within 56 days, or if you weigh a certain amount you can't give blood.”
Volunteers received a packet at check-in that relayed the criteria volunteers needed to meet in order to donate.
“You need to make sure that you read all that information to make sure that you don't get sick or get someone else sick,” stated Foster.
After checking in, nurses gave donors a quick physical interview pertaining to their health history in order to assess their ability to donate.
After that, the donation process was fairly straightforward. A nurse has to sterilize the incision site, and then insert the needle. This may seem daunting to some with aversions to needles, but donors can listen to music or converse with fellow donors while the nurse draws their blood.
“The people that come here to do this are really experienced so they make it go really quickly,” said sophomore blood donor Stephanie Steiner-Otoo.
Once they were all bandaged up, donors were expected to rest and get a snack. A table packed with goodies like chips and pretzels ensured that volunteers could refuel themselves after the process. Donors needed to rest for 15 minutes at least, but if they experienced any dizziness or weren’t feeling well, staying longer was optimal.
Being nervous about giving blood is common for donors, especially if they have never donated blood before. For many, though, facing their fears is a small price to pay to help people in desperate need of blood. Steiner-Otoo admitted that while this was not her first time donating blood, she still had nerves when donating this time around. Ultimately, though, Steiner-Otoo was glad she didn't let her nerves prevent her from donating.
“It’s a pretty big needle, but it's worth it,” said Steiner-Otoo. “You know it's just a tiny prick for someone else to be able to improve their health.”