You may consider yourself a hero or someone may call you a hero for minute things. People may look up to you for one reason or another. Be a true hero. Go save a life, give blood.
It’s that easy.
One blood donation can help three separate individuals in need of a blood transplant.
The University of Kansas held its annual spring blood drive March 9 through March 13, but the blood drive was not as successful as it has been in the past.
The blood drive committee set a goal to receive 850 units of blood to send to some local blood providers. The University of Kansas collected 538 total units, sending 350 units to the Community Blood Center and 188 units to American Red Cross.
“Numbers, this year, were very low,” said Leann DeLong, the donor recruiter from the Community Blood Center. “They were worse than I’ve ever seen from KU for the spring collection.”
The bad part is that this is not just a local problem. It is a nationwide problem. Blood donations and corresponding blood supplies are down to a new low. Many blood banks are suffering and can’t serve the needy patients.
Inventories for blood are extremely low across the nation. This has been a problem for all of 2012 and it needs a major boost soon. Both O negative and O positive blood types are at critical levels, according to American Red Cross’ website.
The Community Blood Center is noticing the same problem in the Kansas area. Transferable blood is leaving the center faster than it is coming in.
“We are at a deficit with all blood donations,” said Delong. “Blood supply is critically low on O positive blood types.”
These O blood types are important because these are the blood types that can be transplanted into almost anyone. Type O negative is universal and can match up with any other blood type. Type O positive is the most common blood type. Both of these are always in high demand and usually in a shortage.
The American Red Cross aims to collect more than 900 units of blood a day from across the nation. The Community Blood Center, which focuses mainly on the Greater Kansas City area, calls for 580 donors a day.
Approximately 44,000 units of blood are needed for patients a day, according to redcrossblood.org. That averages to one person needing blood every two seconds.
The blood drive committee from the University of Kansas set a high goal knowing it seemed like a long shot.
Last spring, the University of Kansas and Lawrence community donated 651 total units.
“We knew that was a high goal, but we did not think the turnout would be as low as it was,” said Anita Miriyala, president of the Blood Drive Committee. “We will go back and look at what we did this year and the year before, and make the proper changes.
American Red Cross reports on its website that it collects 6.5 million units from donators and turns that into blood sources for nine million other people.
Nine million people need blood transfusions a year. Any donation is beneficial.
“The blood banks count on us because a university is usually a good place to get a lot of donors, said Anita Miriyala, the president of the Blood Drive Committee at KU. “It’s such a large mass of people and they are usually pretty healthy, so all the donated units are productive.”
A productive unit is a unit that still qualifies for transfusion after all the testing. Each donation is screened and tested for diseases, medications and other substances that could possibly harm the receiver of the transfusion.
“I feel like we kind of let down our blood centers this time around,” Miriyala said. “500-plus donations is good, but with the size of the university and the Lawrence community, we could have done better.
Most people seemed to point to advertising and recruiting as the source of the problem.
There were emails sent to the students and chalk written on sidewalks on campus, but in this world with mass media and the amounts of chalk everywhere on campus, students may have avoided reading the advertisements all together.
“People just didn’t know about the blood drive, DeLong said. “I know the committee wrote in chalk on campus, but when I walked into the student union I saw chalk for everything. It is hard to reach the masses when you are advertising the same way.”
“Because we are a university organization, we were able to send emails to the students,” Miriyala said. “But we needed to do more.”
DeLong’s first suggestion for improvement is to add more students on the blood drive committee. More students would help reach more people and spread the word.