During the second week of winter term, Portland State will host a blood drive in collaboration with American Red Cross. The blood drive will be held 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the third floor of Smith Memorial Student Union Jan. 12–15.
This is PSU’s second drive of the 2014–15 academic year and is open to both students and non-students. The university hosts four blood drives every school year in October, January, April and August.
“I can’t overstate enough how important these school blood drives are,” said Jared Schultzman, external communications manager at American Red Cross. “It’s nice to have [a] partner in the community, especially this long—decades long— that’s something that’s really special.”
Health Educator for PSU Center for Student Health and Counseling and blood drive coordinator Gwyn Ashcom said PSU and American Red Cross have been working together for more than 30 years to coordinate blood drives on campus.
“We’ve been doing the drives officially since 1979. That’s when it became more regular. Prior to that, there were drives held on campus that were as-needed,” Ashcom said. “We did one as far back as the Korean War in the 1950s.”
Schultzman said PSU’s blood drives provide a large portion of the Portland metropolitan area’s blood donation supply.
“The [PSU] blood drive is the largest Red Cross mobile blood drive operation in the Portland metro area,” Schultzman added in an email. “It also happens to be the second largest Red Cross mobile blood drive in the entire Pacific Northwest region, which collects blood throughout Oregon and Washington states.”
Ashcom said the Portland metro area requires 5,000 units of blood every week, and PSU provides a significant portion of that quota. Since 1979, the university’s campus blood drives have collected 21,352 pints of blood through its collaboration with American Red Cross. SHAC’s goal for the upcoming blood drive is to collect 520 individual donations.
“For our last drive in October we collected a total of 569 donations from individual people,” Ashcom said. “When you think about that, an individual person could save up to three people’s lives off of one donation.”
PSU’s American Red Cross student group works with SHAC and the American Red Cross to coordinate blood drives on campus. Members of the group also volunteer at community blood drives and other Red Cross sponsored events.
PSU Red Cross student group president Ben Thomas said the group is working to recruit volunteers and donors.
“PSU is such a huge student body and unique demographic,” Thomas said. “Other campuses it’s much easier for students to come in and be on campus. It’s really important for our student population because we have so many people. It’s a really huge opportunity for blood donations.”
In the upcoming blood drive, the Red Cross student group is hoping to incentivize potential donors by offering the chance to win an iPad Air 2 in a raffle. Anyone who refers five donors can be entered into a raffle drawing for the iPad. The student group has offered promotional giveaways in the past, but this is the most substantial promotion they have done.
Thomas expressed a continued need for increasing donor participation at PSU.
“We collect maybe 500 donations a week, but we have 30,000 students,” Thomas said.
The Red Cross needs donations from all blood types and has a special need for donors with blood types of O negative, A negative and B negative.
“Taking an hour out of your day can save someone’s life,” Ashcom said. “It really, truly is a huge difference Where else can you make such a powerful impact in such a short amount of time?”
The basic eligibility requirements for blood donation are to be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be feeling well and in good overall health. Redcrossblood.org has a full list of eligibility requirements for donors.