BY KELBY CLARK
Every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood, and a single donation can help save the lives of up to three people, according to the American Red Cross.
Due to the universal blood supply’s dependency on donations, blood drives are critical in the collection of blood to help save the lives of cancer patients, sickle cell patients, premature infants, victims of accidents and many others.
On March 17, students of County College of Morris’ Phi Theta Kappa chapter, in collaboration with the Community Blood Council of New Jersey in Ewing, added to the blood supply by hosting their annual blood drive on the college’s Randolph campus. The blood donations totaled 61 units, a decline from what the 2012 and 2013 drives collected, which were 104 units and 123 units respectively. One unit of blood is the approximate equivalent of a pint.
Officers of the college’s PTK chapter believe the decrease in units is related to the fact that the blood drive was held on the first day CCM students returned from spring vacation on the festive holiday of St. Patrick’s Day.
Renata Mauriz, vice president of service of the chapter, spearheaded the organization of this year’s drive by working closely with representatives from the Community Blood Council and encouraging several PTK members to volunteer at the event.
“The blood drive was successful for a Monday after spring break,” Mauriz said. “Some people that had originally signed up forgot their appointment, but we had a calling committee that went through the list to remind everyone.”
Mauriz donated blood for the second time in her life at the drive in mid-March. She made the decision to donate through the Alyx Machine, a technology that collects double the amount of red cells than an average donation would, according to The Blood Center, a non-profit community service organization that serves as the primary supplier of blood throughout South Louisiana and parts of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
“People don’t realize they could be saving lives by simply donating,” Mauriz added. “Giving blood is extremely important. New Jersey is one of the states with the lowest amount of donors. Less than three percent of our population here in New Jersey donates blood.”
New Jersey blood banks reached emergency lows earlier this year when many blood drives were canceled due to the multiple snowstorms that struck the tri-state area.
When weather forced the cancellation of many of the drives, the events often could not be postponed to the following day due to the staff often manning a different drive that had already been scheduled and prepared for. Each of those missed opportunities equated to 1,000 or so pints that were never collected, according to a report done by Kathleen O’Brien, staff writer for The-Star-Ledger.
Jennifer Quinones, account manager for the Community Blood Council, along with other representatives of the nonprofit, are working to increase the number of donors in the state and avoid as many blood shortages as possible.
“All the hospitals throughout New Jersey constantly have blood shortages. We need to increase the number of donors,” Quinones said. “On an average we typically run blood drives twice a year with different colleges, universities and high schools. A total of 183 lives were saved with the 61 units collected. Donating blood takes only 45 minutes of your time.”
The majority of blood banks still have not recovered from the setback of forced blood drive cancellations during the winter. Shortages of all types of blood occur during the summer, and as the season rapidly approaches, amassing eligible donors becomes increasingly important, according to the Community Blood Council.
Brielle Marinelli, a biology major who donated blood at the blood drive in March, supports holding annual blood drives on college and university campuses for students in order to increase the number of New Jersey blood donors, as well as educate young scholars about the benefits of donating blood.
“I think colleges should do a blood drive at least once a year,” Marinelli said. “It will give people the opportunity to give what they can… It saves lives.”
Another blood drive will be held on campus from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday, April 28, with bloodmobiles parked outside of Cohen Hall and the athletic center.
However, for those that are interested in donating blood outside of the college campus, there are eight main blood donation centers throughout New Jersey that process, test and store blood and blood products for use by hospitals and medical centers throughout the state. In addition, several other facilities across New Jersey, such as American Red Cross, accept blood donations. Information can be found on the website for the N.J. Department of Health or with a simple Google search. You could be one mouse click away from saving a life.