Donating blood imperative, necessary to help save more lives

Kristen Vasas and Kristen Vasas

Raging winds and billowing snow aren’t the only things rampaging across campus these days.

The changes in weather brings a wave of widespread infections, storming through classrooms and dormitories, merciless as to whom it decides to take.

The recent flu-like symptoms invading our campus seem to stop at nothing, no matter what preventions are taken to block them from invading our system.

So why all the illness?

Does it have to do with a lack of proper sanitary procedures? Are some people’s immune systems more competent at fighting infections than others? What about where we live? What we eat? Who we hang out with?

Unfortunately, most of the students on a college campus, including ours, never take the time out of their busy college lives to get the answers to these routine questions.

For most of us, our immediate answer to any health related question is simply to go to the doctor, list off our many complaints or ailments and receive an extraordinary pill or liquid which will have us back to our normal selves in a matter of days.

Simple, quick and effective. Nothing to it.

But for some people out there, a swift and easy trip to the doctor’s just won’t cut it when it comes to medical ailments. Some of us need more than just a magical pill to make us feel better.

But what happens when what we need to cure us is unavailable?

For many Americans and others across the globe, this is the case every single day. A simple antibiotic or shot of penicillin will never cure or relieve some of the diseases or medical problems that thousands of people endure on a regular basis.

However, some of these highly sought after treatments and medicines are really not that hard to find. In fact, one of these desired substances can be found by simply pricking your very own arm, more frequently known as a blood donation.

Blood donation is one of the most commonly forgotten types of ‘medication’ by the average person in our society today. However, in reality, someone in America needs blood every two seconds that goes by, according to the American Red Cross.

On top of that, approximately 8 million volunteer blood donors donate about 12.6 million units of whole blood in the United States each year, according to

Although this may seem like a relatively large number, consider that on any given day, approximately 34,000 units of red blood cells are needed. According to the above Web site, ‘more than 23 million units of blood components are used every year.’

Obviously, after comparing the statistics, it’s apparent that the need for blood is great, even with all the donors currently contributing to the cause.

Perhaps one of the reasons why more of us choose not to donate is because many Americans don’t know exactly where their blood is going and whom it is going to affect.

Blood, although it is used for such extreme cases as cancer, anemia, leukemia and sickle cell disease, is also used in mundane procedures as well, such as replacing blood that was lost during a surgery or in an accident.

Another proposed reason for the insufficient amount of blood donors can be linked to the implied discriminatory nature of the donation application that must be filled out in order to donate.

The application prohibits blood donations from any man who has had sex with another man since 1977 for the rest of his life on the basis of spreading the blood transmitted disease, HIV.

However, since June 2006, the Red Cross has been petitioning the government to revise these guidelines, according to the Washington Blade.

The Red Cross joined the American Association of Blood Banks and America’s Blood Centers in asking for guidelines that treat all donors equally as they now believe that improved HIV testing makes the current ban outdated.

‘There is newer and more accurate testing available,’ said Ryland Dodge, director of biomedical communication for the Red Cross in Washington, D.C. ‘We are in unison with the other organizations in calling for new guidelines.’

Although this issue has not been resolved as of yet, the Red Cross plans on continuing their petitions in order to create equality among blood donors.

While I realize that not everyone has the ability to donate blood to those who need it, it is imperative that those of us who do have that opportunity take advantage of it.

I know that the idea of needles and blood can make some people queasy and apprehensive, but in reality, the procedure is relatively painless and is over in a matter of minutes.

Although spending four to six minutes of your time donating will not end the current diseases spreading across our campus, your donation does have the possibility of saving the life of someone who may have perished without it.

Send comments to Kristen Vasas at [email protected]