Student donors save lives

In the midst of a blood shortage in the Tampa Bay area, students gathered into the Florida Blood Services (FBS) Blood Mobile on Tuesday to make donations.

Darla Sechrest, an FBS community relations representative, said more than 20 percent of blood donations in Tampa are collected on college and high school campuses. There is a shortage of O and B negative blood donations, she said.

“Many people don’t think they need to give blood,” Sechrest said. “What I always tell them is ‘if it’s ever you who needs the blood, you’re going to wish someone had donated for you.'”

Twenty-five people donated on campus Tuesday, she said.

On Aug. 26, more than 70 students donated in the FBS Blood Mobile parked by the Marshall Student Center, said FBS phlebotomist Mercedes Reddick.

On average, 30 to 40 students will donate on campus per day, Sechrest said.

Each donor gives one pint of blood, which will typically save three lives, she said.

“The sense of accomplishment you feel about your ability to save someone’s life far outweighs any reservations you may have about donating,” Sechrest said.

Recipients of blood can vary from trauma victims who have lost too much blood to cancer patients going through courses of treatment, she said.

“Donating blood is a selfless act,” Sechrest said. “So many people rely on blood donations everyday to save their lives.”

Chris Plourde, a senior majoring in information systems management, said he has been donating blood since 2004.

“I like donating blood – you’re helping somebody,” Plourde said. “If somebody is having surgery and they’re bleeding out on the table, they need your blood to survive.”

Plourde said that although he never sees the people who receive his blood donations, he gets satisfaction from knowing he has helped someone.

The donations collected on campus are sent to local hospitals and ambulances, Sechrest said.

To donate, students must weigh at least 110 pounds to prevent sickness, she said. They must have an iron level of 12.5 and pass a health screening in which they are asked a series of questions.

Health screening topics include pregnancy, tattoos, drug use, sexually transmitted diseases and prostitution, among other things.

“Donating blood is not that bad, it’s a fairly easy process,” Sechrest said. “The pain lasts for about two seconds and then you’re fine again.”

If there is not a line, the entire donation process usually takes 30 minutes, she said.

Belgica Cucalon, a junior majoring in religious studies, said that although donors receive a free T-shirt as an incentive, that’s not why she chose to give blood.

“I’ve been wanting to donate all week. I saw the Blood Mobile, so I came in,” said Cucalon. “It’s just a good service to the community.”

The FBS Blood Mobile will be collecting donations today from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. by the Marshall Student Center. It will be on campus twice a week, on Tuesdays from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for the remainder of the semester.