Versiti Blood Center partners with Northwestern Athletics to promote blood drive


Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal

Northwestern Athletics is partnering with the Versiti Blood Center of Illinois to host a blood drive next month.

Selena Kuznikov, Reporter

Amid nationwide blood donation shortages, the Versiti Blood Center of Illinois is partnering with Northwestern Athletics to host a blood drive in Norris University Center on May 3.

Blood donation centers in the U.S. are facing the worst blood shortage in over a decade, according to the American Red Cross. After the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. saw a 62% drop in college and high school blood drives, and the share of student donors from the total population has decreased by 15 percentage points since 2019.

Versiti Blood Drive Recruiter John Wielgosz said the drive will be open to both NU community members and Illinois residents. 

“It’s so crucial that we’re building up donors,” Wielgosz said. “For every blood donation, you can save up to three lives, because blood can be split into plasma, platelets and red cells.” 

On Jan. 11, the Red Cross declared a national blood crisis in light of the COVID-19 omicron surge. The organization saw a 10% decline in the amount of people donating blood across the U.S. since March 2020.

Wielgosz said Versiti wants to make donation drives more accessible and hopes to partner with NU Athletics to host future events for donors throughout the upcoming academic year.

“We want to get people used to donating and continuing to donate for the rest of their lives,” Wielgosz said. “That would be great.”

Student groups Alianza and Omega Delta Phi recently partnered with the Red Cross to organize a blood drive at Norris in February due to the countrywide shortage.

Alianza Outreach Chair and McCormick senior Gilberto Guadiana said he was apprehensive before donating, but was ultimately glad he decided to do so because of the shortage.

“It’s just so important to do your part and actually help save some lives,” Guadiana said. “You’re still showing your support by showing up to these blood drives.”

NU Athletics is currently seeking student volunteers to help at the drive by checking people into the donation site and setting up future events through student organizations. Donors will fill out a questionnaire before being cleared to donate and will be provided with snacks after their donation.

The University previously partnered with nonprofit organization Vitalant in January 2020 to host a Purple Pride Blood and Marrow Drive. 

Ryan Donlon, business development manager for NU Athletics, said the organization has averaged about 30 to 40 donors in past blood drives, but is hoping for a higher turnout in the upcoming drive.

“Our students are helping save lives for their neighbors,” Donlon said. “That to me is the most important element to this partnership — it’s a phenomenal cause to be able to be involved in.”

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Twitter: @selenakuznikov

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