Students and Red Cross volunteer for blood drive

The American Cancer Society of Ramapo College (ACS) partnered with the Nursing Student Organization (NSO) for their first joint blood drive. Volunteers from the American Red Cross came to the Student Center to screen students and collect the blood while members from both student organizations took an administrative role, checking in students and recording the number of donors. The event ran from noon to 5 p.m., but donors had the option to sign up online to guarantee a time or be a walk-in. Walk-ins, however, were not accepted during certain peak times like lunch.

Jenna Falkenheim, a member of ACS, said their target number for donors was 50 between the list of registered donors and walk-ins. After 2 p.m., the blood drive had around 20 donors already.

“I think for anyone who gives blood, it just adds to the numbers in general that goes to help other people who need it,” she said.

The timing for the blood drive, Falkenheim said, was something that could be done at any time of the year. Monday was the date chosen because it was when ACS and NSO could come together for the event and when they could get the American Red Cross to come to campus.

There was a mix of first-time donors as well as people who have donated blood before.

“I wanted to give back to the community and I’m also contributing to community service for my fraternity I’m actively involved in,” said Pat Monahan. This was Monahan’s first time donating blood and he said it felt “nerve-wracking, but not impossible.”

Alexandra Hastings donated blood for the first time in high school and multiple times since then. As a nursing student, she received the email for the blood drive and said that led to her decision to register as a donor.

“I just enjoy giving back and helping people who are in need,” she said. “It’s a little nerve-wracking. At first, I was a little bit scared because the needle itself is kind of intimidating, but other than that it’s okay. It doesn’t really hurt.”

There was an area with snacks, water and sugary drinks for donors to sit and rest after giving their pint of blood to American Red Cross volunteers. On the American Red Cross website, there is abundant information on blood drives, including how to host one as well as information on donating blood. The website recommends that donors drink an extra 16 ounces of water before their donation and eat iron-rich foods.

After the donation, the American Red Cross recommends drinking four extra eight ounce glasses of water for 24 hours as well as avoiding heavy lifting or strenuous exercise. In addition, the website recommends keeping the bandage on for several hours afterward and to keep eating iron-rich foods.

Al Tandoc, who has been a volunteer for the American Red Cross for 15 years, said having enough iron in the body is especially important. American Red Cross volunteers screen donors before they are able to donate blood.

“We do the physical history first, like vital signs. If they pass the vital signs, then we go for the iron count and hemoglobin count,” he said.

Iron is important in the blood because it helps make new red blood cells to replenish the ones lost during donation. The American Red Cross does not test for iron levels, but it will test for hemoglobin levels, which is a protein that carries oxygen through the lungs. If a donor’s hemoglobin levels are too low, they will be turned away and asked to donate when their hemoglobin levels are normal (a minimum of 12.5 g/dL for females and 13.0 g/dL for males). Tandoc also said the American Red Cross accepts donors of all blood types.

Falkenheim said that the two organizations hope to do more blood drives on campus with the American Red Cross in the future.

Photo courtesy of pavel-danilyuk, Pexels.