Written By: Jessica Collett
Kara Brown walked into the Taggart Student Center and up the stairs to the Sunburst lounge. She was nervous to give blood for her first time, but after her dad was diagnosed with cancer and she knew they did everything they could do to save his life, she wanted to give another family the opportunity to know the same thing.
She signed her name at the front desk as a man smiled and handed her a packet to go through about what she needed to know before giving blood.
"Ok, I'm ready," Kara said. The phlebotomist took her to a designated area to ask her some questions.
"I know this may be a lot," the phlebotomist said, "but we want to make sure blood recipients get the highest quality possible."
Kara's temperature and blood pressure were taken, to make sure she was healthy, followed by a blood test to confirm she had enough iron. Kara then answered a few more questions privately, for confidentiality, and was ready to give blood.
"I've always been afraid of needles," Kara said. The Red Cross worker smiled as she led her to a nearby chair.
Kara looked away and held up her right arm, with the better veins, as the phlebotomist prepped her for the blood donation. She held her breath and tried to relax as the phlebotomist gently put the needle in her arm.
"That was it? That was just a little pinch!" Kara said.
"Yep, and that little pinch will save up to three lives. Now just about 6-8 minutes and you are done," the phlebotomist said.
Kara released a deep breath and looked over her arm to see the bag fill with her blood. Her blood that would save lives. She felt overwhelmed with accomplishment.
Kara is in the five percent of people in the United States who donate each year. 38 percent are eligible. Utah State proudly gave 754 units of blood last year in the Blood Battle against the University of Utah, who only gave 485, who is roughly twice the size.
The first Utah State wide blood drive will be from April 7-9 through the American Red Cross from 10-3 p.m. This will be the first time regional campuses are involved, who make up 42 percent of Utah State's student body. USU's enrollment has also increased 3.4 percent from fall 2006, so more donations are anticipated.
"Although it sounds cliche, it is a great feeling saving lives," German Ellsworth, Val R. Christensen Service Center Director said,"The Red Cross is a great organization to work with and always fulfill their commitments."
Facts are often mentioned that blood can save up to three lives and every two seconds someone needs blood. Not only that, but no donation blood is wasted. Blood is a medicine and can be broken down into red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. An accident victim needs 4-40 units of red blood cells, premature babies need 104 units of red blood cells and heart transplant patients need 4-6 units of red blood cells. White cells are given to patients with disease or cancer, platelets help control bleeding as well as help cancer patients who receive treatments and plasma is given to burn patients.
"I love my job," Denine Harris, an American Red Cross phlebotomist, said, "My dad was given a heart transplant and was saved by those who donate. Blood donors don't do it because it is their job and no one is forcing them. They are there because they want to be."
The American Red Cross provides 45% of the nation's blood supply. Even for those who are not able to donate, there are ways to get involved such as volunteer or recruit donors. Blood is not going to be available for unexpected accidents. Not without donations.
For more blood donation facts or ways to volunteer, go to American Red Cross