Blood Drive At Norris Attracts Impressive Turnout, Says Group

Michael Gsvoski

By Michael GsovskiContributing Writer

One hundred sixty-eight pints. In gasoline, it’s about what you need to fill the tank of a Dodge Charger.

In blood, it’s enough to save 504 lives.

By any measure, Student Blood Services’ first major blood drive of the academic year was definitely significant. Organized by the group, which raises awareness of blood donations, and LifeSource, a Chicago-area blood donation service, the drive went from noon to 6 p.m. Nov. 8 and 9.

Reviewing the results of the drive, Student Blood Services co-president and Weinberg senior Maya Ragavan said, “I’m really glad Northwestern’s excited about this, and they realize how important blood drives are.”

The turnout was impressive. Over the two days of the drive, 206 people donated blood and 86 people entered the national bone marrow registry. According to Ragavan, it was on par with the group’s other drives. It hasn’t always been that way.

“Four years ago, we would not have had this kind of turnout,” she said.

She attributed the growth to better use of street flyers in raising awareness of SBS events and encouraging a greater degree of fraternity and sorority participation in the volunteer effort. The drive featured a competition within the Greek chapters to donate the most blood, with the winner promised a pizza party.

One fraternity had a much more direct link to the drive.

Lambda Phi Epsilon manned a minority bone marrow registry awareness booth on the ground floor of Norris, as part of a nationwide effort by the fraternity to increase minority bone marrow registration. The fraternity has been active on this issue since 1997, when a member at Stanford University needed a bone marrow transplant. Unable to obtain one, he has since passed away, but the commitment remains.

“It’s definitely a good cause for any minority,” said Chris Chen, a McCormick sophomore. “Only 25 percent of the registry is minorities, so the more minorities register, the more people will potentially get a second chance at life.”

For all the talk of blood and life, the atmosphere inside the Louis room was generally relaxed. Donors said they felt good about the time spent but tended not to dwell on it.

Sara Abadi, a Medill sophomore, said it was “a simple everyday thing that anyone can do,” and McCormick freshman Kevin Kalisz said his reason for being there was, “Somebody told me to do it. Some dude from math.”

But taking a pint of blood out of someone who’s using it doesn’t always go smoothly.

“It was good except for when I almost passed out in the beginning,” said Mohanned El-Natour, a McCormick sophomore, of his experience.

A few other students also experienced problems, ranging from feelings of extreme heat to a complete loss of consciousness by one student on Wednesday. But most students who participated reported little to no trouble with the process.

And with less than 10 percent of all eligible U.S. donors giving blood, every drop of their blood will count.

“Donate when you can,” said Jay Bruins, Weinberg senior and repeat blood donor, “because you never know when somebody will need it.”

Reach Michael Gsovski at [email protected]