UWGB community donates for blood drive

By Tanisha Richter  News Writer, Fourth Estate: Published: Monday, December 5, 2011

The UW-Green Bay Student-Athlete Advisory Committee collaborated with the American Red Cross to hold a pre-Thanksgiving blood drive Nov. 21.

The drive, which took place in the Phoenix Rooms, was one of several drives that take place on campus throughout the school year, according to Dave Liethen, donor recruitment representative for the American Red Cross.

The November blood drive collected around 50 pints of blood, five units short of the goal for the day, Liethen said.

The 50 pints could potentially save up to 150 lives.

“There’s a continuous need,” said Amy Henniges, director of Counseling and Health Services. “The demand always seems to exceed the supply.”

Otis Jones, freshman pharmacy program student, donates blood at the American Cross blood drive in the Phoenix Rooms Nov. 21. Photo by Sadie Wilson/Fourth Estate

According to Christine Vandenhouten, assistant professor of nursing, individuals whose blood has no antigens, type O-negative, are in particular demand because their blood is compatible with all different blood types.

Blood type O is the most often requested by hospitals, according to the American Red Cross website.

“For many patients who are recipients of blood products, including blood cells or plasma, would probably die without these products,” Vandenhouten said. “When someone donates blood, whole blood is extracted and then blood donation centers are able to separate the component parts so one unit of blood could perhaps benefit many people.”

Donated blood is needed for a variety of different medical cases, including victims of trauma, cancer patients and sickle cell anemia patients, according to the American Red Cross website. However, in some instances, people are able to plan in advance to help conserve the use of other blood donations.

“In the case of trauma where you have massive blood loss, certainly individuals in that situation need more blood than an individual who receives blood in advance of surgery, possibly having their own blood or a family member who’s compatible donate their blood,” Vandenhouten said.

Advancements in medical technologies have also allowed for the conservation of donations.

“There’s minimal blood loss in most surgical procedures today,” Vandenhouten said. “When surgeons anticipate a lot of blood loss, they actually can use a device called a cell saver, where they extract the individual’s blood and collect it. By doing that, they reduce the need for donated blood, but obviously that’s only going to work in the event that somebody anticipates the need.”

Blood donation centers typically try to keep the donations local whenever possible, Vandenhouten said. However, it is possible for donations to travel across the country.

“It can go back to this area in Wisconsin, Iowa, upper Michigan and northern Illinois,” Liethen said. “If those hospitals’ needs are met, then it can essentially go anywhere in the country.”

While blood donations in this area have been at a steady rate, the approaching end of year may put a halt in further donations, Liethen said.

“Any day the weather can change, and instead of getting rain it could be freezing rain, or sleet or snow, and that tends to lead to a few more accidents,” Liethen said. “In addition, we know it’s getting close to finals. Students are studying and focusing on those things rather than donating. People in general are getting busy with holiday activities rather than donating blood.”

While the distractions of the holiday season may be hard to avoid, Liethen stressed the importance of remembering the impact donating blood can have.

“People take trips to the grocery store, or maybe they want to get together with friends, or they travel for the holidays to go back home,” Liethen said. “Everybody plans those things out but nobody plans to need a blood transfusion—but, if you live to the age of 72 or older, chances are you’re going to need blood at least once in your life. We need to make sure the blood is not only collected, but tested, and it’s waiting there at the hospitals for doctors to transfuse.”


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