The Mills College sophomore class hosted a Blood and Bone Marrow Drive on Tuesday, Nov. 6, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Student Union. Their reasons for signing up varied, but participants in the blood drive had one thing in common: their blood helped the Red Cross fulfill its quota when the blood supply was unusually low.
According to an Oct. 23 article released on the Red Cross Web site, the fires in Southern California over the past few weeks caused several blood drives to be canceled, costing the organization nearly 200 units of blood. A unit is roughly a pint.
The article, which was posted on student-news the day before the Mills drive, stated that Red Cross needed as many Northern California donors as possible to help make up for this loss.
Sixty-three Mills students, faculty and staff donated, providing roughly 50 pints of blood, according to Erica Browne, the Mills health education coordinator. Browne added that the event exceeded Mills’ goal for roughly 35 people to successfully donate.
This year’s event at Mills College also included a new feature: bone marrow donation.
Students at Tuesday’s event were asked to begin the marrow donation process by providing an oral swab sample, which Red Cross will analyze. If Red Cross found a patient in need of a marrow transplant and that patient matched the student’s sample, Red Cross would notify the student to take further action.
Participants in the blood drive had varying experiences.
“I love donating blood because recently my sister was in the hospital, and it was because of several blood transfusions that she was able to live through her surgery,” said sophomore Cristin Allen, a second-time donor. “I got to see first hand how donating blood can save the life of someone you care about.”
Allen said that although her wait time was long, she considered the experience to be worthwhile because she was contributing to an important cause.
“I donate because I like to feel like I am making a difference in the world,” Allen said. “It would be a lot easier to sit in my room or go to class, but actually going and participating is what makes the difference.”
For senior Margee Churchon, donating for the first time meant moving past her discomfort at the sight of blood. Having grown up in a family of health professionals, Churchon said that their reasons for giving blood regularly are ones she has grown up with, and has come to value as well.
“Blood, the fluid that literally gives us life, has the capacity to save another person,” Churchon said. “If I ignored the life-saving possibilities of blood for my own discomfort, I would feel at the very least guilty, if not outright a bad person.”
“I believe in sharing my abundance and privilege as much as I can, and if that means sharing life too, I can’t imagine saying no,” she added.
English professor Jennifer Hoofard, who was unable to donate last year due to a lack of time, was grateful that students allowed her to go first, enabling her to finish in time to teach a class.
She felt that the process should have been more streamlined, in order to more efficiently accommodate a greater number of donors.
“It is sad that people have to leave without donating, because that is perfectly good blood and intentions that are being squandered,” Hoofard said.
“I [give blood] because it is a good thing to do, and should I ever need blood, I hope someone will have donated then,” she added.
Not everyone who wanted to was able to donate. Sophomore Cecilia Aguilera had health concerns that prevented her from being a donor.
“I unfortunately was not able to give blood . due to certain medications that I’m on, as well as the fact that I had the flu less than a week before.” Aguilera said.
“Next time, though, I will definitely donate,” she added.