The Virginia Blood Services (VBS) Bloodmobile made a trip to Radford University, parking outside the Bonnie and giving students a chance to give back to the community and save lives by donating blood.
The Bloodmobile operated outside the Bonnie from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 25 and from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, March 28, reaching their donation goals for the day and enjoying an excellent response from the student body.
Signing up and donating was simple. Students had to provide a valid ID, take a few minutes to answer some health questions, have their vital signs checked and then they could donate. After giving blood, students were offered snacks and refreshments, and asked to remain seated in the bus for at least 15 minutes before leaving.
Many students cited a family history of donating as the reason they decided to board the bus.
“My dad donates every year and he always encouraged me to do it if I want,” freshman art history major Regan Chancellor said. She had always felt guilty for letting fear stop her from donating in high school, and decided to put that fear behind her on Friday.
“A common misconception about donating is that it is scary or painful. It isn’t at all,” explained Michelle Westbay, the marketing and communications lead for VBS.
According to the VBS website, while 37 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, less than 10 percent actually go through with it annually.
“While some people are afraid of needles, you will find the majority of our donors say it is not painful at all. After the process is over, you will find satisfaction in knowing that you have supported three lives with that one unit of blood,” said Westbay.
However, health considerations do have to be taken after donating. Those who donate can have no nicotine for at least 30 minutes, no alcohol for at least four hours, and no strenuous activity or lifting for at least 24 hours before giving. Alcohol and nicotine after blood donation can produce amplified effects, and exercise can lead to bleeding and bruising at the injection site.
“Donors should be aware that it is important to prepare for a donation by eating a light meal or snack and staying fully hydrated before your donation is scheduled,” Westbay said.
Despite these necessary precautions and the misconceptions that surround blood donation, traffic on the bus was substantial as students were able to get in, donate, and leave safely in around 30 minutes.
“I usually do this — I’m type O negative, so everyone needs my blood,” RU information systems sophomore Kartik Vaghela said. Every other blood type can accept red cells from type O negative, making it one of the most important blood types donated.
While the drive held last week met its expected goal, Westbay explained that this event was not hosted by anyone on campus — it was what they refer to as a “park and prey/pray” — parking somewhere and soliciting donors themselves from the general public.
“When we have a sponsoring on-campus drive, our turnouts tend to be much better. Our drives on the bus near the Bonnie usually average around 15-20 units donated,” Westbay explained. “Our first inside set up at Muse Hall ever sponsored by a fraternity was very successful, exceeding its goal of almost 100 units over three days.”
If any Greek organizations or student clubs would like to get involved, the VBS web site (www.vablood.org) has instructions for contacting them and setting up a drive, and also has information to help potential donors find drives and donation centers near them.