In July, the American Red Cross issued an emergency request for individuals with all blood types to roll up a sleeve and donate blood. The Red Cross received around 50,000 donations short of what was expected. The national organization is still recovering from the lack of donations this summer, and are scheduled to have a blood drive on campus this week.
K-State will be hosting the blood drive for four days this week. The K-State Student Union and Putnam Hall will provide the space for the donations to take place. The blood drive will start today in both locations and finish up on Thursday in the Union only.
All donors will receive a free t-shirt, while supplies last. Additionally, all who give blood will be entered to win an invitation, from football coach Bill Snyder, to attend a Wildcat football practice.
There are four blood group systems, Type A, Type B, Type AB and Type O. Any blood that is classified as Type O-negative and is donated can be used in transfusions for people with any blood type. Therefore, those with Type O-negative blood are known as “universal donors.”
“Even though I do not have a universal blood type I am donating,” Karson Merkel, junior in mechanical engineering, said. “Someone will still need it.”
It is not required that an individual knows their blood type prior to donation. The Red Cross will complete an analysis to verify the blood type and ensure that the blood is safe to transfuse to another individual.
Since 2003, K-State has hosted 166 American Red Cross blood drives during which the Red Cross has collected 12,936 pints of blood. Because each pint of blood can help up to three people, more than 38,000 patients could have benefitted from the generosity of the K-State community.
As the single largest supplier of blood products in the U.S., the American Red Cross provides about 40 percent of the nation’s blood.
“College blood drives play an important role in helping to ensure an adequate blood supply for patients in need as almost 20 percent of the millions of donations made each year come from high school and college blood drives,” Cari Merrill, communications program manager for the Red Cross, said.
The Red Cross depends on volunteers to perform its mission, and that includes the members of several K-State campus organizations. This includes the K-State American Red Cross Club that was founded last year.
“My early experiences with blood donation is what introduced me to all of the positive impacts that the American Red Cross provides annually around the globe,” said Melissa Rousseau, senior in psychology and gerontology and vice president of the K-State’s American Red Cross Club.
According to Rousseau, her passion for blood donation was first sparked because of her mother’s feelings of obligation to repay the blood her grandmother had used during a surgery that was performed many years ago. The act of complete selflessness that the strangers displayed when they offered life to Rousseau’s loved one has continued to resonate in her and her mother’s minds and hearts. For this reason both have become avid donors in order to potentially help other families in need.
“Upon entering K-State I really wanted to start getting more involved with [Red Cross] and started looking for the club on campus,” Rousseau said. “Yet, at that point in time K-State did not have an American Red Cross Club to join. Therefore, it became my mission, as well as Justin Theleman’s mission, to find sponsors within the faculty to help us achieve this goal.”
The club, now entering their second year on campus, hopes to be an extension of all the good the American Red Cross provides for the campus and Manhattan community.
“Blood donation is such a crucial act because it literally does help save the lives of those in need,” Rousseau said. “This is a demand that reaches across the life span and impacts each individual in some way or another.”