Theta Chi brothers out for blood

The American Red Cross: saving lives one pint at a time. Photo Credit / Abigail Dobrowolski
The American Red Cross: saving lives one pint at a time. Photo Credit / Abigail Dobrowolski
The American Red Cross: saving lives one pint at a time.
Photo Credit / Abigail Dobrowolski

By Verones Padilla
SC Staff Writer

On Thursday, April 26, the Brothers of Theta Chi Fraternity cohosted a blood drive with The American Red Cross in the Keystone Room.

The Keystone Room was transformed into a mini triage. Beds were set up with a half dozen donors taken care of at a time by trained volunteers of The American Red Cross.

Donors were required to sign in with the receptionist and carefully read through “the black book,” a detailed list of the Red Cross’ regulations and eligibility requirements.

Charise Timko, the floor supervisor, took me back to begin the donation process. It was my first time, and as I waited for my name to be called, I started conversations with the people around me.

“I’m here to support my girlfriend.  I’ve donated twice before, and I get really nauseous and dizzy,” said Justin Kukoly.

As I started to get nervous about what was ahead of me, Timko called me back.

The donation process begins with a mini-physical. They asked basic personal information and demographic details.  The information goes into databases to better categorize the blood donations.

Timko took my temperature, blood pressure and asked for some medical history. She asked to see my “anticubical” or the fold on the opposite side of your elbow.  I assumed the check was to screen against drug abuse.

“We are checking for rashes, blotches or something like poison Ivy—not for drug use. If there is some sort of rash on the skin, once we insert the needle, the product is no longer viable,” said Timko.

One donor produces a single pint of blood and six tubes. The tubes are for testing purposes.

Before any blood is given to a patient, it is first screened for any communicable diseases, for blood type and a host of other screenings.

With one pint, the American Red Cross can save 26 babies or 3 adults.

Timko, pricked my right, middle finger to test for my iron levels.  This was the last test before I would be declared an eligible donor.  The target blood levels for a female is 12.5, and The Red Cross allows for one retake.

My iron levels were too low and I was “deferred.”  A deferral can happen for several reasons.  A high temperature, elevated blood pressure or a pulse that is out of “acceptable range” are all grounds for deferrals.

Feeling a little disappointed, Timko allowed me to shadow her as she processed another donor.

The next step for eligible donors is actually giving blood.  There are two ways in which this can be done. The first, more traditional way, is on one of those beds.

A volunteer hooks the donor up to a bag and the blood is taken slowly. Once the bag is full, they remove the six tubes and the patient must wait a few minutes to be observed.

“We are making sure that they don’t have a drop of sugar. Some people have been known to faint after giving blood,” said Bridget Arrow, an ESU nursing student and donor.

The other way to donate blood is with the Double Red machine. This machine allows for a single donor to safely donate two units of red blood cells. It is because the machine takes the red blood cells but returns the plasma and platelets to the donor.

Kyle Tyohy always donates double reds.

“Because I am O-, I am a universal donor, so I like to give as much as I can,” he said.

Once the blood is donated, members of the Red Cross team tag it and process the blood for use. The blood collected in the Keystone room was likely used before the end of the day Friday.

“The blood literally flies off the shelf. We use between 400 and 500 pints of blood a day,” said Timko.

Because of the severe winter weather, that closed schools and cancelled many scheduled blood drives, the American Red Cross in this area has a shortage of blood.

“We hope to get at least 104 donors before the end of the day here,” said Timko.

I was number 67 and it was late in the afternoon. Timko was not hopeful that they would make the goal and said it would be one of the first times they missed their target at ESU.

The Red Cross may not have been able to make their goal last week, but it may not be too late for someone who is interested in donating.

You can save the lives of 26 babies or 3 adults with a single pint of your blood and about 40 minutes of your time.

If you are willing to donate a pint and six tubes visit The American Red Cross or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

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