During the Feb. 13 blood drive, hosted by the American Red Cross, signs were placed outside of and within Chapin Auditorium to promote the event.
BY USWA IQBAL ’18 & SARA ROTTGER ’19
Since its founding in 1881, the American Red Cross has provided humanitarian disaster relief and education both in the United States and internationally. Similarly, the Mount Holyoke College American Red Cross Chapter holds the mission of “[providing] a service to the community and [spreading] awareness on campus.” According to the group organizer’s Facebook page, the current chapter that operates on campus has been a registered organization since May 2014.
Over the semester, the group coordinates blood drives along with technicians from the American Red Cross. Usually two to three drives are held during a semester, with around 50 people each time. In order to sign up, participants can register online or during the pre-drive tabling at Blanchard.
At the blood drive on Feb. 13, students and local members of the community followed a process that involved reading information, pre-donation screenings and post-donation refreshments. The blood donation process typically takes about an hour. Reasons for donations varied. Robin Pegau ’19 said that she’d donated blood twice before because she thought it was important and urgently needed. Moreover, “my sibling just had surgery,” she said, which gave Pegau a “more personal reason.”
In addition to blood drives, the organization has previously organized menstrual hygiene product collections, which they donate to the Amherst Survival Center. In February 2016, the group placed boxes around campus to collect pads, tampons and diva cups. According to chapter member Anna Bouchard ’17, these products are especially vital and aren’t usually products that people think to donate.
While the Mount Holyoke American Red Cross Chapter stresses the importance of donating blood, there are restrictions on who can donate as well as how frequently one can donate. According to the American Red Cross website, all donors must be “healthy and feeling well,” be at least 17 years old or 16 years old with parental consent and weigh a minimum of 110 pounds. The age requirements vary according to states. Those donating whole blood, as opposed to platelets or plasma, are eligible to donate every 56 days. Both Kashyap and Bouchard explained that though they personally were restricted from donation, they still urged participation in Red Cross events. The official website supplies an extensive list of additional criteria, such as medications and diseases, to outline further restrictions upon who can donate blood.
According to the Red Cross website, blood donated through the Red Cross is sold to hospitals to cover the costs of testing and donation, but hospitals can also add charges to this.
In the future, the group plans to expand their efforts. According to Kashyap, they plan to offer CPR training, a service that they have offered in the past. The next blood drive will be held on April 10. “There’s a big network of people that work with the Red Cross but it’s important to get involved,” Bouchard said.