Corps of cadets blood drive

A nurse is drawing blood from a student volunteer at the fall Corps of Cadets blood drive, Sept. 13, 2019.  

The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets teamed up with the Red Cross on Wednesday, Nov. 9 through 11 for a three-day-long blood drive held in Owens Banquet Hall from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Patrick Maier, a junior cadet majoring in public health, provided some insight into the event.

“The Corps of Cadets organizes and helps staff a blood drive twice every semester,” Maier said. “This is the second one we’re doing this semester. They’re based far enough apart so you can donate in the first one and then donate again in the second one. It’s done with the Red Cross; they get in touch with us, and we reserve (Owens Banquet Hall), and … we show up early, set up and we start volunteering to admit people, and then the rest of it is run by Red Cross volunteers.”

According to the Red Cross, the drive collected whole blood and power red donations. Whole blood donations collect red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma, and generally require about a pint of blood to be taken. This type of donation can take up to an hour, and all blood types are welcome. To donate whole blood, a person must be at least 17 years old, healthy enough to take part in typical daily activities and weigh at least 110 pounds. Donors must also meet certain eligibility criteria regarding specific medications or medical conditions.

Power red donations, on the other hand, take double the amount of red blood cells but return the donor’s plasma and platelets back to them. This type of donation takes about 1.5 hours, and O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative are the only blood types accepted. Male donors must be at least 17 years old, measure at a height of at least 5’1” and weigh over 130 pounds. Female donors must be at least 19 years old, over 5’5” tall and weigh at least 150 pounds.

Both types of donation are critically important for a whole range of patients. Whole blood is typically given to patients who have undergone blood-loss trauma and those requiring surgery. Power red donations are also given to trauma patients, but additionally help newborns who have undergone a difficult birthing process and require an emergency transfusion, as well as individuals with sickle cell anemia.

For those interested in exactly where their blood is being put to use and want to keep track of how much they’ve donated, Maier encourages donors to utilize the Red Cross app.

“If you donate through the (Red Cross) app you can set it up and see where your blood has gone… as in who received it and what hospital it went to,” Maier said. “You can sign up and make a profile and it helps you donate blood and keep track of how much you’ve donated.”

The app can also speed up the donation process for those who want a quicker visit.

“You can just show up, unless they’ve already been filled up online, but (you can also use) the app, and it gives you times for appointments,” Maier said. “All the questions that they ask you, you can fill out earlier to make the process quicker.”

Maier hailed this event as a success, given the number of people who have stepped up to donate.

“I think 80 (people) a day is normal. Normally these are pretty filled up, they’ve had to turn people away because they’ve had so many people,” Maier said.

If students missed the opportunity to donate blood this semester but still want to contribute to this cause, the Red Cross is scheduled to return to Owens Hall on Feb. 15 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. once again. For those who don’t want to wait, the New River Valley Blood Donation Center at 250 South Main St. allows donors to schedule appointments most days out of the year, and Maier recommends utilizing the Red Cross’ page to find any other blood drives that are available.

“You can go on the Red Cross Blood Drive’s website and you can search for different blood drives by criteria: dates, location and whatnot,” Maier said.

Eligible students are encouraged to participate in the two drives happening in the upcoming spring semester, as well as any other drives they might be interested in so long as they wait 56 days between whole blood donations and 112 days between power red donations.

Both male and females who are interested in donating should check the Red Cross website for a list of other eligibility requirements for both whole blood and power red donations.

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