Students at the heart of blood donation clinic

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Brock hosted a mobile blood donation clinic in the Ian Beddis gymnasium on September 21. The clinic was the first of four planned for the academic year, setting the tone for months to come.

Outside of the gym, a trio of volunteers greeted and oriented potential donors before directing them to the clinic.

“Lots of students are able to donate but many don’t know we’re here. I really wish we could reach more students,” said Emma Schmid, who was a volunteer. “We get a lot of faculty who come and donate, which is great, and it would be great to get more students.”

According to Tammy Maroudas, the Canadian Blood Services territory manager for St. Catharines and surrounding areas, participation in the clinic was on par with mobile clinics held at Brock historically.

“We are very well-booked. I know with the university we do tend to have a higher no-show rate, over 50 per cent,” said Maroudas. “Certainly, that’s something we’d like to decrease, as far as students who sign up and then don’t show up. We really require a good rate of walk-ins to compensate for that.”

By the time the clinic began at 10:00 a.m. it had already booked 90 per cent of the day’s appointments.

“Post-secondary schools in general do have a higher rate of no-shows and a higher rate of deferrals as well. In comparison to others, Brock tends to be higher,” said Maroudas. “Sometimes students sign up, then their schedule comes out, and life happens. We try and encourage students to sign up once they know their schedule. We also enforce that a patient is waiting for their donation. They can see a face behind a cause, which is always really important.”

The mobile clinic was prepared to collect 108 units of blood Friday.

“Those units can potentially save multiple lives,” said Maroudas. “We’re collecting it as a whole unit of blood, so it encompasses the three components of blood we use: the red blood cells, platelets, and plasma. We don’t utilize the white blood cells. We have three usable components so you can times it by three, or you can say multiple lives.”

“Our hope is to show students how easy it is to fit blood donation into their routine and then continue to do so. Males can donate every 56 days or two months if they are eligible and healthy. Females can donate every 84 days or three months,” said Maroudas.

Third-year student Amrit Singh was one of several students who participated in the clinic. Singh plans to donate at the next mobile clinic as well.

“The first time I donated, I didn’t eat anything and I started feeling dizzy. I had Gatorade and chicken fingers this time. It’s important to make sure you stay hydrated,” said Singh. “I finished before the person next to me because I’d had electrolytes and was hydrated.”

There will be mobile clinics at Brock on November 23, January 25 and March 22. Would-be donors can also attend the permanent clinic in St. Catharines. This clinic has a new taxi shuttle system for groups of four or more to get to and from the building. Maroudas says this may encourage more students who cannot attend the mobile clinics to evaluate the alternative: the local brick and mortar clinic.

Both Maroudas and Schmid recommended students look into eligibility requirements and donate if possible.

“We really need people to donate. If you have an hour, come and donate. If not, you can volunteer,” said Schmid.

Schmid, isn’t eligible to donate herself, has been volunteering with Canadian Blood Services for three years. Maroudas has been involved in the organization for 19 years through various roles.

Maroudas provided statistics about the need for blood. This year, approximately 100,000 new blood donors will be needed to maintain the national blood supply and replace aging donors. Currently, the blood supply is sustained by less than four per cent of eligible donors, despite a Canadian needing blood approximately every 60 seconds.

“Brock has always been a huge supporter. It’s really important to the local blood program in the area. We really appreciate students and want to give them as many opportunities as possible,” said Maroudas.

 

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