Today, the Stanford Blood Center is transforming the library into a blood donation center for the annual blood drive. Staffed with nurses and organized by the Student Executive Council (SEC), the drive aims to collect at least 100 units, or draws, of blood from those students participating.
“Donating blood is extremely important in any community,” Stanford Blood Center’s account manager Tim Gilmore said. “There are not many ways to directly affect someone’s life in such a big way.” Although registration is only open to those students who weigh over 110 pounds and are at least 16 years old, on-campus blood drives have proven to be extremely successful in past years. Mobile drives at high schools and colleges collect over 30 percent of the Stanford Blood Center’s annual blood supply and provide an opportunity to expose young adults to donating. “This is a great way to educate and recruit new blood donors,” Gilmore said. “We know that only 30 percent of the general population are eligible to donate blood, and only about 3 percent of the population actually donate blood.”
Upon arriving at the library at the scheduled time, the student donor will talk to a medical historian and briefly go over his or her medical history in order to ensure a safe blood supply. “They might have to turn some people away if they have a history of illness or have recently been sick,” blood drive event team member junior Dakota Baker said.
At that point, a licensed nurse and phlebotomist will conduct the blood draw, which lasts approximately six to eight minutes. The blood drive is equipped to facilitate two types of blood donations: whole blood and double red blood cell (DRBC) donations.
The more common is the whole blood donation, in which a pint of blood is later separated into red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets at a Stanford lab. Separating the blood into its components allows each individual patient to receive precisely what he or she needs.
A DRBC donation uses a machine called the Alyx to collect two units of red blood cells from a single blood draw. Since a larger amount of blood is being drawn than during a whole blood donation, the automated machine extracts the red blood cells and returns the rest of the components back to the donor. Red blood cells are needed by most patients, so a DRBC donation allows the Stanford Blood Center to collect a vital component in one appointment. The DRBC requirements, however, are more extensive than those for a whole blood donation and use gender, weight and height as crucial factors in determining eligibility for donors.
SEC representatives urge all eligible students to participate in the cause. “[Students] feel good about themselves because they help save lives,” Baker said, pointing out the bonuses of getting cookies and missing class. Those with type-O blood are especially encouraged to donate, for their blood can be used for anyone in an emergency.
“When talking with recipients that received blood to save their life, they are always extremely grateful to the healthy donors that took time from their day to do something selfless,” Gilmore said while explaining the direct impact that a blood donation can have on the community. According to Gilmore, each student that comes to donate blood has the potential to impact three patients in a local hospital. “When over 100 Gunn students donate blood, the impact can be up to 300 patients, and that’s huge,” he said.