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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Saving a Life One Pint at a Time

    Blood donations are always in need, but volunteers who support blood banks and blood drives play an equally important role in helping to save lives.’

    SBU students are actively working with the SBU Hospital Blood Bank to create awareness and to encourage students to donate.

    ‘I think a lot of people have misconceptions and don’t realize how much one pint can do,’ said Jennifer Collins, a graduate student in the Physician Assistant program.

    On Feb. 22, the Physician Assistant Class of 2008 organized a blood drive. They gave out information in the Health Sciences Center and 40 students signed up. 16 were eligible to donate. ‘It’s 16 more units than we had the day before,’ said Jennifer Peace who runs the blood bank.

    Physician Assistant students organize a blood drive every spring. Rebecca Brenner, one of the blood drive coordinators, said her class worked as a team and she was proud of them for helping. She said the best way to find donors is by spreading the word and talking to family and friends.

    Undergraduate students have also been encouraging students to donate at the SBU Hospital. Every blood donation made at the blood center goes directly to a patient in need. This helps to augment the hospital’s supply and reduce reliance on blood from the American Red Cross and Long Island Blood Center.

    New York has experienced a 25% loss in its blood supply because of a ban placed on European blood that poses the risk of mad cow disease, Peace said. According to the American Red Cross, 5% of those eligible to donate in the United States actually do. In addition, the winter and summer months always have a shortage.

    In response to the winter shortage three years ago, Richard Lin, a senior Biochemistry major, started the Human Cooperation Project. In an effort to recruit student donors, Lin encouraged professors to offer extra credit to their students in return for donating.

    Biology professor Paul Bingham was the first to welcome the program and several other classes, including those from other majors, have joined. The number of students who donate each year has increased since the program began in the spring of 2005.

    Lin said it was a way for a diverse group of students to collaborate for a common good. But more importantly, students get the college experience of what it’s like to share the gift of life. ‘It’s the quickest and most efficient way to make a difference,’ Lin said.

    More than two thirds of the students who came to donate were first time donors and some continue to return.

    The program has also influenced other students to volunteer. Joy Gueverra, a senior Health Sciences major, began volunteering with Peace about a year ago. She has encouraged international students on campus to donate and also helped to launch the ‘Hearty Birthday Project’ this spring, which encourages other clubs and organizations to donate. According to Gina Cook, a senior Biology major who is also working on the project, about 5 clubs have already joined to help.

    Gueverra said she recently donated platelets on behalf of someone who was trying to reach 200 donations and could no longer donate. He was so happy and thankful that it really touched her to see how genuine some donors are and how much they really care about other people.

    Scott Vong, a sophomore Psychology major who recently began volunteering with Peace, said volunteering has helped him to realize the magnitude of the blood crisis.

    About 20 volunteers work with Peace and most of them are students. They call themselves ‘The Peace Team.’

    Peace also works with Victoria Basile, a senior Biology major, who helps to get sports teams to donate during their off-seasons. The program began last fall and members donate from men and women’s tennis, women’s lacrosse, baseball, softball and football have already donated. They hope to encourage men and women’s soccer and basketball, volleyball and maybe swimming throughout the remaining of the spring semester.

    Education and awareness are vital to attracting blood donors. But even if you can’t donate, volunteers are just as important, Peace said.

    ‘As a volunteer you don’t have a license to save lives’hellip;All you can do is make sure people are coming in to help save lives,’ Lin said.

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