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. . Donors called to help relieve blood shortage

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By Chancey Anderson
Contributing Writer
Friday, November 10, 2000

The fear of needles, a phobia almost negligent when crucial to saving one's own life, hinders the intensely important blood banks throughout the country.

A mere five percent of the population who is able to give blood actually does donate.

Many students at St. Olaf will step out of their comfort zones Wednesday, Nov. 8 through Friday, Nov. 10 as the college holds its first blood drive of the year.

First-year Adrienne Hayes admits to being a little nervous to idea of have blood drawn, as this is her first time. In response to why she is doing it, Hayes replied "because I can." Think about it," she continued, "what if you got in a car accident and needed blood and they didn't have it?"

The possibility that blood banks may not have enough blood to supply those in need, is more realistic that most people may imagine.

According to Mary Meador of the Memorial Blood Center in Minneapolis, "[blood centers] are experiencing shortages all over the country. That means if you go in for surgery there may not be the blood you need."

The American Red Cross also expressed their concern. Donor recruit representative Bruce Kranig commented that the need for blood has risen along with the number of recent advancements within medical technology. "We collected six percent more blood than last year, but the demand has gone up eleven percent. We are simply not meeting the demand," said Kranig.

A person is able to donate one unit of blood once every 56 days, but one car accident can require up to 40 units. Similarly, someone suffering from leukemia can need up to eight units of blood each week, while a liver transplant (one of today's more common transplant procedures) can require up to 60 units of blood.

"There is a constant need for blood each and every day and that need can only be met by another person's donation," Kranig said.

Juniors James Christopherson and Joseph Juba both agreed that the process is not difficult. Christopherson described it as a simple and fulfilling process, and encouraged others to give as well. Stacy Holberg, a second time donor, urged her fellow St. Olaf students to give blood as well: "A couple minutes of discomfort is worth saving someone's life."

Meador and Kraing both agree that someone's first-time donation will most likely conquer their fear. "People don't realize how easy it is," said Kraing. "Unfortunately, they overestimate the availability [of blood] and underestimate the need."

Due to the national shortage and high demand, the blood drive here at St. Olaf welcomes walk-ins. There is a need for every blood type. The only requirements are that participants must be 17 years of age or older, in good health, and weigh at least 110 pounds.

"There are few things you can actively do to save some one's life," said Meador. "This is one of them."

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