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Red Cross sets ’11 goal; Blood drives to pick up speed

Eric Beiersdorfer / Lantern photographer

An American Red Cross van can often be seen on campus and a flyer advertising drives can frequently be found in campus buildings.

Ohio State’s American Red Cross Club is responsible for organizing and advertising campus blood drives. The group is looking to collect a record number of blood units in 2011.

The ARCC sets a goal to donate more than 10,000 units per year. In 2009, it hit its mark with 10,500 units. In 2010, it raised 11,000 units, setting a new record for annual donations. This year, the ARCC, in conjunction with the Central Ohio Region Red Cross, hopes to raise 11,000 to 12,000 units, said Candice Hines, OSU donor recruitment representative of the Central Ohio Region Red Cross.

One unit of blood is equivalent to one pint and can be broken down into three blood products: plasma, platelets and red blood cells.

Nick Parker, a third-year in political science, is a six-time donor and said he thinks campus blood drives are frequent because “there are so many eligible students here and it’s not that time consuming to donate.”

Catherine English, a phlebotomist with the blood collection unit of the Central Ohio Red Cross, said she finds most students between the ages of 18 and 26 are willing and loyal donors on campus. Many donate every 58 days, the amount of time donors must wait between blood donations, English said.

The ARCC holds about 300 campus blood drives per year, 70 of which are held in November during the OSU versus Michigan Blood Battle, Hines said.

“It is the largest blood competition in the country and Red Crosses all over the country pay attention to it,” said Rodney Wilson, communications manager of the Central Ohio Red Cross.

Michigan has won the battle the past three years. In 2010, Michigan collected 2,513 units while OSU collected 2,405 units, according to the American Red Cross website.

Another donation challenge, “The Big Ten Challenge,” finished at the end of February. Results are still being tallied, but OSU, Penn State and University of Michigan are known to be the top three finishers, Hines said.

ARCC adviser Jennifer Pelletier said the challenge is scheduled in an important season because winter is the slowest time for blood donations and donations reach critical levels. She said she thinks levels are low due to travel during winter holidays and sickness.

Despite the low levels of units in the winter, Hines said students are willing to donate because they “want to give back to their community and do something impactful.”

Pellatier said she thinks the large size of the OSU community and the fact that the medical center uses a lot of blood from the American Red Cross also plays a roll in students’ willingness to donate.

“OSU is unique in comparison to other schools in that you have a medical center on campus and patients there need blood,” Wilson said.

He said he thinks students realize blood comes back to campus to benefit medical center patients.

Divya Verma, a third-year in microbiology, said she first donated blood her freshman year at OSU because she realized a lot of the donations go to local hospitals.

“If my loved one was in the hospital, I feel it’s an easy contribution for them,” Verma said.

But donated blood is sent where it is needed most, Wilson said. The Central Ohio Red Cross has a daily quota of collecting 650 units of donated blood to support its 41 hospitals.

Hines’ job is to schedule blood drives on campus 90 days in advance to ensure the 650 units are collected each day. Drives are held monthly at the Ohio Union, RPAC and OSU Medical Center. They are also held six times per year at Thompson Library and once per quarter in dorms.

Pelletier said blood drives are held on campus almost every weekday.

Scheduled drives may be found at redcrossblood.org by typing in the sponsor code: buckeyes.

“We are literally all over all the time and try to get to all corners of campus so it’s super convenient for people to donate,” Pelletier said.

Hines said the ARCC partners with about 20 organizations every year to sponsor blood drives and hopes to see an increase in partnership.

Pelletier said there is no cost to sponsor a drive either.

“Drives are always more successful with the help of partnership,” she said.


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