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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Student blood donors multiply

Published: October 4, 2013
Section: Featured, News

Recently awarded the Life Share Program Silver Level Award for increased turnout of donors within the Brandeis Community, the Waltham Group hosted its annual October blood drive in conjunction with the American Red Cross this past Monday through Wednesday.

The drive was one of three sponsored throughout the year, occurring in February and April as well. According to Colin Gibbons ’14, one of the coordinators, the Waltham Group aims to collect 800 pints of blood in total. “We always say that blood is meant for circulation—not just through our own bodies but throughout the community,” said Gibbons.

According to Gibbons, donors are provided with three paper hearts to decorate, each of which signifies a life saved. The blood drive works in collaboration with Project Linus, a nonprofit organization based in Boston that creates blankets from the decorated hearts for children afflicted with critical illnesses.

In light of the tragic Boston Marathon bombing last year, Gibbons reveals the record turnout of donors within the Brandeis Community last April, only one week after the incident. He remarks “It was incredibly heartwarming and motivating to bring our community together to serve our fellow man and achieve a common goal.” According to Christina Fischer ’14, a fellow Waltham Group coordinator, nearly 100 more pints of blood were collected at the April drive than in previous drives. The Waltham Group Blood Drive was awarded the title of Massachusetts Sponsor of the Year in 2012 as well, notably for its growth, sustainability, and impact according to Gibbons.

Despite the impressive efforts of the community to band together in response to the tragedy, Fischer stresses the continued need for eligible donors. She explains, “Quite simply there is a constant need for blood donors, around 90 percent of the population will need to receive a blood transfusion at some point in their lifetime, however, only around 5 percent of the eligible population donates.” Citing the need for donations to stem from the local community, Fischer explains that blood donations cannot be transported long distances to patients awaiting transfusions.

Due to the relative decrease in donations during this October drive, Fischer reveals that the Waltham Group is “currently working on strategies to motivate the Brandeis community to recognize the need that is present consistently in our community.” Beyond donating blood, interested students can also contribute to the cause by working the donor signup table and volunteering with operational tasks during the drive itself. Fischer asserts, “Every person who walks into the drive whether a volunteer, a donor or simply to inquire about the drive and help spread the word is helping save lives.”

Fischer, who is currently majoring in neuroscience and biology, plans on attending medical school with the intention of specializing in rural medicine following graduation, pursuing her commitment to health care. Gibbons not only serves as a coordinator for the the Waltham Group, but as an EMT for Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps while working at a suicide hotline in Waltham, as well.

“Brandeis students are amazing individuals. I feel so privileged to facilitate such a heartwarming event and love to empower our incredibly gifted and humble student body,” Gibbons said