By Dylan Wang
Sophomore, Biology major
Lately blood drive busses appeared in spots near Turlington Plaza with signs beckoning Gators to donate blood. Super sleuth that I am, I took notice and investigated through donation of my own blood.
After wildly swinging open the bus door, I saw the interior of the blood-mobile, which is essentially a doctor’s office on wheels. I sat down on the closest seat across other students waiting to give blood and before I could pull out my phone and pretend someone was texting me (smooth), one of the two nurses greeted me with a smile and told me about the process. She began by asking the standard questions for blood donations. “Have you eaten yet today?” “Do you have a family history of diabetes?” Then came the questions I really had to think before answering. “Have you had sexual contact with a prostitute or anyone else who takes money or drugs or other payment for sex?” “Do you have a tattoo?” “Have you received money, drugs, or other payment for sex?” After the interrogation, I had my finger pricked and got to learn about my body, including my hemoglobin levels, blood pressure, pulse and even my blood type. Afterwards, I lied down on the one of the seats near the window and began to actually donate. As a survivor of HPV shots and a veteran of other assorted vaccines, I looked at this needle with disdain. It paled in comparison. I must also praise the delicious snacks.
As I sat on the seat with my feet propped up, an apple juice box in my right hand, a stress ball in my left hand and a candy bar in my mouth, I watched students rush to class from the elevated seat in the bus. The blood donor next to me casually remarked that her blood flowed more slowly than usual. Turns out, junior Riman Chakhtoura has donated over ten times over the course of just a few years.
“The first time [I donated blood] I was scared of the needle, but I learned to look away and it’s routine,” said Chakhtoura. When I asked her if she chose to donate so often because a family member benefited from a transfusion, Chakhtoura responded that “I just do it to contribute. Every bit helps.” After hearing her explanation for her frequent donations, I realized that I have not given nearly enough to support those in need of blood. By the time we finished chatting, we were both done filling up our blood bags and wished each other the best. I asked the nurse who took my blood about how crucial it was to collect blood. She replied, “We rely on students to donate blood, it’s very important because we need to supply the hospital with enough blood.”
More often than not, we walk past blood drive busses thinking we’re too busy to stop and help out those in need of blood. The next time you walk past one of these busses, consider this: if you were in the hospital and needed blood donations from someone, you would be indescribably grateful to a total stranger. As I walked out of the bus carrying my complementary t-shirt and snacks, I took note of how just taking 20 minutes of your time could make a major different to someone less fortunate.
One of the reasons why donating blood is so crucial for the health of others is the fact that it has a limited shelf life of 30 – 40 days. Each time a person donates blood, they are donating red blood cells, platelets and plasma. People ranging from combat veterans to cancer and trauma patients all require blood in order to recover. Blood transfusions continue to play major roles in modern day medicine and as a result more blood is needed. There is no substitute for human blood and it takes just 10 – 20 minutes to change someone’s life. If you pass by a blood drive bus next time, think about how you could save someone’s life and get juice and cookies at the same time.