Blood Drive

Garrett Brown, MVC writer and photographer

Every quarter of the school year, representatives from Versiti Blood Center visit the Marauder cafeteria looking for students aged 16 and up who are willing to donate blood. The students who volunteer get to select the time of their appointment and receive a pass to get out of two hours of class. On the day of the blood drive, the donors head to the main gym lobby, by door 17, where Versiti has set up.

The most recent of these blood drives was Tuesday, November 8th. Dozens of students signed up to donate. When donors arrive at the donation station, they must fill out a questionnaire to determine if they are eligible. The questions ask about sexual activity, drug use, vaccines, and foreign travel, as some conditions could contaminate given blood, causing the person receiving it to become more sick. 

Once that is completed, they are asked to sit and wait for a physical evaluation. This consists of a temperature check, a blood pressure test, and an iron level analysis from a finger prick. If the volunteer passes all of these exams, they are asked to sit, wait, and eat a few snacks until a chair opens up.

The process for drawing blood is relatively painless; the only part that really hurts is when the needle punctures the skin inside the elbow. This needle is attached to a tube that leads to a small pouch that, once full, diverts the blood to a larger pouch. The blood in the small pouch is used for tests for which the donor must provide prior consent. While the larger pouch is being filled, the donor is asked to squeeze a stress ball once every five seconds with the donating arm, so there will be more blood flowing to that arm.

It is important to have a healthy breakfast and drink plenty of water in preparation for donation. As the body loses blood, it replaces it with the body’s water supply, and the donor’s blood sugar drops. A healthy breakfast ensures the blood sugar remains at a safe level. Hydration also helps to speed up the donation process; the blood flows out more quickly if the donor drinks more water.

After the larger pouch has filled, the needle is removed from the donor’s arm, and the donor is sent to sit on mats on the floor. They stay there for about 15 minutes to ensure they will not fall unconscious. While they wait, they can eat more snacks to rebuild their blood sugar.

Although donating blood might seem scary, it can not only save lives, but also provide a valid excuse to be exempt from class.