“We are here to save lives. Every pint (unit) of blood saves lives; the unit is given to 3 different recipients; we are glad to work out with several schools around the area,” said a Red Cross worker.
At 7 a.m., volunteers arrived to help finish setting up for the drive and filling up positions. They brought snacks, drinks, blankets and other materials to make the process a little smoother for anxious volunteers — and from a volunteer’s standpoint, there were plenty. At the end of their donations, the donors received T-shirts along with snacks and were given some time to converse with friends and rehabilitate.
Students chose two available types of donations available: single unit or double red. Both processes on average took an hour to 90 minutes.
Although double red donations sounds intimidating, in reality, both whole [single] and double donations draw out the same amount [one pint] of blood. The plasma and other proteins, along with the red blood cells, are given to patients in a double red donation; single red donations deliver the plasma back to donors.
The double red donations are donated to younger children and severely injured [burned] victims. This procedure requires a separate form to fill out.
For donors, athletes especially, eating nutritiously the day before the blood drive was crucial for a successful donation. Consuming essential nutrients ensured a comfortable donation and prevention of blackouts.
Ryan Campbell, senior, prepared to deliver his third donation. Asked of why he decided to donate, he said, “It’s the fact of sacrificing some time to save some lives.”
Brendan Marks, a UNC-Chapel Hill freshman and former blood drive coordinator, has not yet left Leesville or this blood drive behind. Despite being on his Spring Break, he decided to visit Leesville for a helpful cause.
“It’s encouraging to see the support coming from the amount of people who still come out,” he said.
“As a coordinator from the past two years, [I saw] things from more of a managerial perspective. Now I am able to see things from the perspective of the donor, so that’s nice.”
Why do many students decide to donate biannually and take half of their school day off for this drive?
“People donate because they are passionate helping out others and potentially saving lives,” said Katie Arney, senior and blood drive coordinator.
“It promotes the sense of the Leesville community, and it’s fun,”
In total, 127 people donated and 119 units of blood were collected, enough to save a total of 357 lives.
Despite the superb logistics and lack of medical emergencies, the drive, according to Arney, fell short of the expected turnout of 200 students. Participation levels have dropped somewhat over the past couple of years.
“It’s not as big as it has been in the past. Still, after talking to the medical staff, the drive continues to be successful and is given lots of support,” said Marks.