On final day, blood drive aims to surpass spring, summer totals

by Julia Hecht | 11/9/06 6:00am

Today is the second and final day of the American Red Cross' once-a-term blood drive in Alumni Hall in the Hopkins Center. This year's goal is to collect 200 donations each day, a number in line with the amount collected in previous terms, despite a recent declining trend in total donations during the Spring and Summer terms of 2006.

"The significant drop from last summer to this summer -- with approximately the same number of kids on campus -- is worrisome," blood drive co-chair Arielle Rodman '07 said.

The blood drive held over Summer term missed its goal of 100 donations a day by at least 30 percent each day, Rodman said. The Spring term blood drive also fell short of its goal of 150 donations per day by virtually the same percentage.

"We used to do over 200 donors per day at Dartmouth and we are looking to get 200 students per day in the doors this year," said Gregory Pence '06, community service coordinator for the Tucker Foundation.

According to the American Red Cross, on any given day, an average of 38,000 units of red blood cells are needed across the country. Despite this great need, fewer than five percent of healthy Americans eligible to donate blood actually donate each year.

Blood donations supply transfusions for trauma victims, heart surgery, organ transplants and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or other diseases such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia.

Rodman noted that the blood collected would directly benefit the Dartmouth community.

"It's important to note that most of our donations will stay within the New England region, which means that if one of your friends gets into an accident, their transfusion would likely come from a local source such as the Dartmouth blood drive," Rodman.

The blood collected by the American Red Cross from this region would only leave New England in the event of a national crisis or medical disaster, she said.

In an effort to increase turnout, students hung posters about the blood drive in different locations across campus and sent out campus-wide BlitzMail messages encouraging participation. Two students dressed in blood-drop costumes, the Red Cross mascot, are also circulating around campus encouraging students to donate blood.

The blood drive is run through the Tucker Foundation and relies on student and community volunteers. Rodman explained that Dartmouth students "lay the groundwork for the Red Cross," who supply all medical technicians, supplies and machines.

In addition to the individual student volunteers, a large number of Greek organizations are participating in the event. Members from eight Greek houses, including Sigma Delta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Kappa Delta Epsilon, Alpha Xi Delta sororities and the Alpha Chi Alpha, Alpha Delta, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Sigma Nu and Kappa Kappa Kappa fraternities volunteered to work at the drive. These student volunteers work one-hour shifts during which they distribute information and sign-up sheets, provide blood donors with sandwiches and drinks and assist the Red Cross in setting up all equipment.

The blood drive is open to all members of the Upper Valley community. Potential donors are asked to provide identification, undergo a mini-physical examination and answer questions about their health.

"It's a great feeling to know that you are making a difference, even if you don't know the person who is receiving your blood," blood donor Lily He '10 said.

Advertise your student group in The Dartmouth for free!