City of Hope blood drive encourages students to donate blood
On Friday, City of Hope hosted a blood drive on West Campus from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event provided students the opportunity to donate blood during their free time. The blood collected will be used directly for City of Hope cancer patients located at the Duarte treatment center.
Donating was a simple 40 minute process: Donors first had to read an educational binder detailing valuable donor information, including the requirements needed to donate and possible restrictions. After completing a form answering basic information and health history questions, donors were interviewed to explain their answers if needed. Then, the phlebotomist took vital signs and ensured donors had enough iron to donate. If everything passed, donors laid on a bed for about 10 minutes while blood was being drawn.
Afterwards, donors rested for 15 minutes under phlebotomist supervision to make sure everything was okay. They were encouraged to snack on chips and hydrate with water before leaving.
Each donor gave one pint of blood which is enough to save up to three lives. Throughout the six hour event window, a total average of 40 students donated blood, resulting in about 40 pints of blood.
City of Hope conducts mobile blood drives seven days a week around the greater Los Angeles area and Orange County, including many other colleges, businesses, high schools and churches, within the 70-mile radius of the Duarte campus. In addition, the City of Hope Blood Donor Center accepts appointments and walk-ins. It operates Monday-Saturday and every second Sunday of the month during specific times.
“A lot of people come to the City of Hope and say, ‘I’m here because you all saved my dad’s life, so I am coming back to give something that my dad received from you guys: a pint of blood,’” said Alejandra Perez, a City of Hope phlebotomist.
Unlike many other medicines, blood is not created in a lab and it is not always readily accessible, which makes donors all the more needed.
“You can’t buy blood at the store,” said Martha Scott, a City of Hope phlebotomist. “The only way to collect it is through donors. It’s a life-saving medicine for many.”
Olivia Weaver, a freshman nursing major, realized the positive impact donating blood can have on patients after donating for the first time.
“It wasn’t until the first time I donated blood and looked into it a little more that I realized how important it is. I used to think donating blood was only for people who got in major accidents and needed blood right away,” said Weaver. “But, blood is used daily for transfusions for all sorts of reasons. It’s amazing how fast they go through blood and I don’t think people realize how needed it is at all times.”
Most City of Hope patients are fighting cancer and rely on 37,000 units of blood and platelets each year for survival. Considering that City of Hope only brings in about 22,300 units of blood and platelets yearly — and that blood has a lifespan of a mere 42 hours — treatment centers like City of Hope require massive amounts of blood donations. This need increases during the summer months, when most donors leave for vacation.
Anna Heye, a junior nursing major, performed clinicals at the City of Hope. While there, she worked directly with cancer patients who received blood transfusions daily.
“I was really impacted by the patients at the City of Hope. It’s really tough being a cancer patient and they are really dependant upon blood donations … It’s just a daily need,” said Heye. “I remember seeing the blood banks and going down and getting blood from them and helping do blood transfusions for those patients and feeling stressed when the blood supply was low.”
Donors are also highly encouraged to donate platelets, which are blood cells that help the body form blood clots to stop bleeding. Many patients rely on both blood and platelets for survival. Donating platelets is a two hour process and can be performed every two weeks. Unlike blood, platelets are not type-specific; a donation can help anyone in need.
With National Blood Donor Awareness Month fast approaching in January, City of Hope aims to inspire people to donate whenever they can. More information can be found at CityofHope.org and appointments can be scheduled at iDonateBlood4Hope.org.