Blood drive dianosed with weak pulse
All Kate Leach '04 wants to do is help Bowdoin students save lives. She says, however, many students are unwilling to work with her to make that happen.
Leach is one of the organizers of the Red Cross blood drive on campus. She has worked the blood drives for four years now, and has seen participation decrease every year. Organizers set a minimum goal of 100 pints of blood. Wednesday they were only able to collect 80 pints.
"It's ridiculous that when you have 1600 people on this campus that they can't find an hour or two out of their day to give blood," she said while working at the drive in Sargent Gym. "There's really no excuse unless you have a travel restriction or something like that."
Leach said she realizes that not everyone is able to participate. People who have been to Europe recently cannot give blood because of Mad Cow Disease. Others have low iron levels or simply may be unable to handle the sight of their own blood.
Students who have experience with the procedure, like Chris Bird '07, said there was no need to worry about pain. "Not after having done it twice before," he said, while waiting for pre-procedure testing.
Liz McCaffrey '04 laughed when asked if she was scared. "I wasn't really nervous," she said as she was about to leave the gym after the blood was drawn.
Leach said that fears are conquerable. "You have to convince them that getting pricked with a needle is not as painful as getting in a car accident and needing six pints of blood," she said.
Leach was referring to an incident in Lewiston last month where doctors induced a man into a coma because of a shortage of blood at Central Maine Medical Center. According to published reports, doctors had to wait days to start surgery for 43-year-old Gerry LaBonte. Another person needed immediate surgery after being involved in a car accident, and the hospital had to borrow blood from four other Maine hospitals in order to complete her surgery.
"People don't realize that this problem is real," Leach said. "There's no substitute for blood. You can't make it."
Leach did not want to sound completely negative, though. "We're definitely thrilled with the people who do come here," she said.
Alex Lamb '07 has participated in past blood drives. Wednesday's was her third. "I'm giving blood because the levels are really low right now," she said. "It's such a small inconvenience in my life and it saves other people's lives."
Beth Kowitt '07 helped direct people at the entrance. "I can't give blood so I thought I'd help out this way," she said. Since Kowitt has spent time in England, she was prohibited from donating.
Kowitt had never worked at a drive before, but like Leach, saw that things were going slowly. "I've been sitting here for an hour and I feel like I should have signed in many more people than I have," she said.
Organizers believe that some attendance problems may be due to the long wait. A few years ago, the registration system changed and required participants to spend more time in line. Leach said that the system has been improved so the wait is now shorter, but it is going to take people time to realize this.
Leach was not sure if the developing whooping cough problems on campus had anything to do with low attendance. "Every time there's an outbreak and a lot of people on campus are sick, that affects our donor pool," she said. It is not yet known how many people on campus may be carrying the infection (see related story page one).
Kowitt also said that some repeat visitors did not like to be forced to re-read pages of safety literature, which they had already been required to do at past drives.
Bowdoin spaces blood drives out evenly so that students are eligible to donate at each drive. The blood drive committee will hold the next drive February 11, 2004, from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in Sargent Gym.
Leach hopes that more people will participate in future drives, even if they have never had blood drawn before. Ten people had blood drawn for the first time on Wednesday.
"There's no better way they could use these two hours than to save lives," she said.
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