Each year one third of the 16,000 units of blood that are collected in the Northland are supplied by the high schools and colleges. A couple weeks ago UMD hosted one of its 10-12 blood drives that happen yearly, which was put on by Memorial Blood Centers. Memorial Blood Centers is a Minnesota based non-profit organization, which provides blood to 19 local hospitals.
One single donation can save up to three lives. Emily Erickson, Collection Specialist and Field Trainer who was working the drive, has not only collected blood but has also received it.
When Erickson was a senior in high school, she got in a head on collision a block away from her home. She broke both her legs and an arm and had to be airlifted to Regions Hospital in the twin cities.
After the accident she received 42 units (pints) of blood and had to undergo 15 surgeries. The average woman has about 10 pints of blood in their body. The doctors thought she would never walk again but she proved them wrong.
With some help, just months after the accident, Erickson was able to walk at her graduation.. Now she is able to walk completely on her own.
“Because of what I went through I knew I wanted to be involved in the medical field,” Erickson said. “It is my way to payback those people who helped me. If it wasn’t for those 42 people that donated I wouldn’t be here.” Erickson has worked with the Memorial Blood Foundation for three and a half years.
“It is not something that is man made, there is no substitute,” Erickson said.
Operation Supervisor Melissa Garrett, who was also working the drive, has donated two gallons of blood on 16 separate occasions. She said she was inspired to donate blood when her best friend was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia.
“It is a gift that can’t be duplicated. You can’t buy it in a store, it is not on the shelves, without it a lot of people would lose their lives,” Garrett said.
Brenda Beard, Head of the blood drive, said the majority of the donators preregistered for the event but they also accepted donors on a walk-in basis.
“We always have a real need for blood during the holidays due to extra travel, but we need it all the time,” Beard said.
Since the blood can only be used for a limited time after it is donated, the need for blood is constant.
“Blood doesn’t last forever. It has a shelf life similar to milk. After a short period of time it goes bad.”
Junior Kelsey Holthous, civil engineering major, has donated blood on eight previous occasions making this her ninth.
“It’s an easy way to give back. You never know when it is going to be used but the need is always there,” Holthous said.
Sophomore Laura Levar, communication sciences and disorders major, has only donated on one previous occasion and was inspired to give again when she heard that her one donation could save three lives.
“If I was in a position that I needed blood I would always think about the person who took 40 minutes out of their day to donate. It can break or make someone’s life,” Levar said. Garrett said the drives that they have at UMD are usually successful. For this drive 47 units of blood were collected.
After the blood is donated it is transported to their lab in the cities where it then undergoes numerous tests and is separated into different parts. After it undergoes the processing it is then shipped back up to hospitals and trauma centers in the northland.
The next blood drive on campus will be Thursday, Dec. 6, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. outside of the Kirby Student Center.
BY SHANNON KINLEY firstname.lastname@example.org