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ONU's Red Cross blood drives are making a difference

Senior Biochemistry major Mitchell Bowling donates blood at the Red Cross Blood Drive held on Sept. 24 in McIntosh. (photo/Lindsay Gabor)

Senior Biochemistry major Mitchell Bowling donates blood at the Red Cross Blood Drive held on Sept. 24 in McIntosh. (photo/Lindsay Gabor)

On Wed., Sept. 21, the McIntosh Center filled with people looking to donate to the Red Cross's blood drive. Within the span of just a few hours, the Red Cross left with 47 units of blood—enough to help 141 people.

This achievement has become a common thing for ONU blood drives. Six times a year, the Red Cross comes in, and many go up against the needle to donate blood for those in need. With every donation, up to three lives can be saved within the time it would take to walk from Subway to the Sports Center.

For each drive, the Red Cross conveys the number of donations they need to meet the demand of hospitals and other health facilities. Each donation center then sets a goal to achieve for their drive. P4 Angela Smith is serving her second year as the Red Cross blood donor coordinator for ONU.

“Although we sometimes don’t meet our goal, we have always been able to count on students, staff, faculty and even community members to donate at the drives,” she said. “Part of our mission is to serve the community, and donating blood helps keep the community healthy. Even if you’re healthy, you never know when you or a loved one might need blood.”

If ONU’s drives don’t meet their goal, then another drive would need to exceed their goal in order to compensate. If too many drives don’t meet their goals or are canceled due to weather, supplies start to run low.

Smith said this happened in March, when blood supplies were so low that products were being sent out as soon as they were processed, with not much reserve. Ohio Northern University had an urgent blood drive to help replenish the supply and had a “fantastic” turn out, with double the number of donors than normal.

"I am so proud to be part of community that rises to the occasion to help those in need,” she said.

Hardin County Territory Manager Tanalee Stoll, said the Red Cross has been partnering with Ohio Northern since 2006. In that nine-year span, ONU donors have given over 6,700 units of blood, saving up to 20,109 lives. 

That’s about 2,235 lives a year—equivalent to 60 percent of ONU’s student body.

The Red Cross website states that more than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day, and although 38 percent of the U.S. population are eligible to donate, less than 10 percent do.

To be eligible to donate, donors must simply be over the age of 17, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in generally good health. A blood donor card, driver’s license, or two other forms of identification are also required at check-in. All blood types are accepted, and walk-ins are always welcome.

Those who decide to donate go through a short physical beforehand, with the actual blood transfusion process taking less than 10 minutes. Afterward, donors are offered some light nourishment. For those who download the Red Cross app, they can even track where their blood goes after it leaves ONU.

According to Smith, one common reason people may be prevented from donating blood is having low iron. However, this can easily be fixed. To raise iron levels, simply start increasing the amount of iron you consume a week a head of time, which can be done by taking a multi-vitamin with iron.

Although the Red Cross sometimes offers donors the chance to win prizes for donating, Smith said that “knowing that you had the ability to save someone’s life, to prevent a family from losing a loved one, to me that is the real reward.”

ONU’s next blood drive will be on Thurs., Oct. 22 in McIntosh. To contribute, donors can sign up on the Red Cross donation website. Or, simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information.

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