Students donated blood at a Virginia Blood Services blood drive in the Commons Ballroom in the spirit of Halloween this week on Wednesday, Oct. 30 and Thursday, Oct. 31.
From start to finish, donating blood takes approximately 45 minutes, said Jenny Madden, senior account manager for Virginia Blood Services. Before sitting down for blood withdrawal, donors provide their contact information, details about their lifestyle, travel history and current list of medications, in addition to passing a physical exam. If you get through all of that, then your blood can be drawn, Madden said.
Similar drives are held nearly every month of the year on the Monroe Park and MCV campuses.
The donation process is detailed, but many students find satisfaction in knowing they are providing a life-saving product to fellow Virginia residents.
“I like to donate as much as I can,” said international business management major Yasmine Sayegh. “I’m part of the one percent of the population (with) B-negative blood. It’s rare … so they really like when I come by.”
Christine Curtis, an exercise science major, started donating in high school and has been doing it ever since. “My sister had leukemia and had to do a lot of bone transfusions and all that, so that made me want to donate,” Curtis said.
Though many students like Curtis choose to give blood as often as they can, Madden said that occasionally donors are turned away for various reasons.
“A lot of the reasons at a college campus would be low weight or low iron, sometimes blood pressure. Those are the most common,” Madden said.
Other reasons for dismissal include traveling to areas with potential for malaria exposure, as well as taking select medications like Accutane that could be potentially toxic for the patient receiving the donated blood.
Biology major Araz Khalilpour waited nervously before donating blood for the first time on Wednesday. “I’ve always wanted to do it but I couldn’t because I travel a lot,” Khalipour said. ”Certain countries you go to, like I go to Asia and Europe, they said it’s a Malaria risk.”
Virginia Blood Services allows for donors to have blood drawn for a maximum of 15 minutes. During that time frame the goal is to extract one pint, called a “unit.”
After a blood donation drive the units are taken back to undergo testing for infectious diseases and are sent to hospitals throughout central Virginia within less than a day.
“It’s something everyone should try to do, definitely an interesting experience,” said education major Jennifer Ayers as she sat in the bed getting her blood drawn. “I’ve been doing it ever since I could.”
The September blood drive collected about 380 units of blood according to Madden. The next drive will be on Nov. 20 on the Monroe Park campus and Nov. 21st on MCV.