The hero is in you

Superheroes  save lives. They come to the rescue. They’re heroic.

According to Tonya Simenson, the donor recruitment representative for United Blood Services, donating blood is an act of heroism.

“You’re saving lives, bottom line.” she said. “You might not think you’re a superhero, but to somebody, you are.”

From 12:30-5 p.m. Sept. 25-27, Concordia students, faculty, and staff will have the opportunity to donate blood at Campus Service Commission’s tri-annual blood drive. The event will be held in Jones A/B and run by United Blood Services. All donations are distributed to emergency assistance shelters in the Fargo-Moorhead community, primarily Sanford and Essentia.

This year, the need for blood donations is urgent.

“They used up a lot of the blood supply this summer,” said CSC Assistant Commissioner, senior Emily Seller. “They really advertise it in the fall, because they really need supply during holiday season.”

According to Simenson, United Blood Services—which services 93 hospitals in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota—received an e-mail from the Hospital Services Department. The e-mail said that blood supplies in the blood types O positive, O negative, B positive and B negative are “extremely low.”

This is in part due to the fact that most blood donations come from student donors during the school year, resulting in a drop in donations during the summer, Simenson said. National crises such as Hurricane Isaac have put many people in the hospital as well, and resulted in a “higher usage of blood in hospitals,” she said.

“Every day, crises are happening. Blood is always needed, always useful,” she said.

According to an article on Fargo’s United Blood Service’s website, “After a long, hot summer where the nation’s blood supply was constantly under pressure, United Blood Services is urging those in the community to become blood donors.”

The program encourages readers to “find the hero in you”—a campaign slogan which Seller said will likely be seen all over campus within the next week to advertise the upcoming blood drive.

It is not always easy, however, to find that hero. Some students, such as junior Sam Odegard, may have reservations against procedures that involve that infamous word: needle.

“Needles freak me out,” Odegard said. “I don’t like having them sit in my body for long periods of time.”

Seller sympathizes with needle-phobia as well, recounting how she and CSC Commissioner Kristi Del Vecchio ’13 nervously walked up to a Concordia blood drive for the very first time two years ago.

“We were both apprehensive about it,” she said. “But the phlebotomists   [health workers trained to draw blood] are really good at making you not pay attention to the needle. Talking to a friend gets your mind off it, or talking through the process of what’s going on. It’s easy to get over it once it happens.”

Simenson gave her own advice for overcoming needle-phobia.

“Imagine the patient. I’m sure they’re afraid of needles too,” she said. “I always tell people to imagine [the patient] is your mom, or dad, or brother.”

She spoke of a man who has a condition that requires him to have blood transfusions every month. He relies on blood donations to survive. She spoke of her husband, who at one time needed two pints of blood transfused while in the hospital. Without blood supply on the shelves, he would not be here today.

“It’s reassuring when you’re sitting in the hospital. My husband and I looked at each other and thought, ‘We’re so glad we’re blood donors,’” she said. “You never know when you’re going to be on the receiving end.”

In order to donate, you must be at least 16 years old and weigh over 110 pounds. This means, Simenson said, that about 60 percent of the population is eligible to donate. Right now, five percent donate, and, according to Simenson, they are usually those who have been on that receiving end.

“If everybody donated three times a year, there would be no shortage,” she said.

Senior Theresa Munson has been donating ever since she was eligible. On Sept. 24, she will be donating for her fourth time at Concordia and her 11th time total.

“Everyone has blood, and I don’t have a condition that prevents me, and I don’t have a phobia of needles, so it feels silly not to,” she said.

Munson is an O positive blood donor and said that not donating “wouldn’t be good for my population of blood.” Blood donors with O positive blood can only receive blood from O positive or O negative blood. Simenson also encouraged O negative blood donors to donate, because they are the only type that can give to anyone.

One incentive method that United Blood Services will offer at this blood drive is the Give a Pint, Get a Pint program.  If you give a pint of blood, you will receive a coupon for a free pint of Culver’s ice cream. Munson said she has a collection of these coupons that she may or may not redeem at the same time. Seller said that, after her first time donating, she got chocolate ice cream.

The process of donating blood is simple. First, register online at with the sponsor code “cord.” Then, sign up for one of the three days. First -ime donors will get a card in the mail telling them their blood type, which is information that Seller said is very useful in emergencies and for future donations. Show up for your assigned date and let the phlebotomists take care of you.

“They are very personable,” Seller said.

After your donation is complete, students can retreat to the recovery room and eat snacks such as cheese, crackers and juice to re-boost their sugar levels. Before you go on with the rest of your day, Munson said, you also get an “I donated” sticker.

If you show up to donate but are unable to complete the donation, you will still receive the coupon for Culver’s as well as an “I tried” sticker.

Seller said that CSC blood drives have been very successful so far.  The upcoming drive currently has 40 people signed up to donate. Simenson also said that Concordia has the lowest no-show rate out of all the colleges.

“The students that sign up, show up,” she said, calling Cobbers “very dedicated.”

“It’s one of the easiest things you can do,” Munson said, “It’s really just giving time.”

Watching The Avengers takes 143 minutes. Watching Captain America takes 123 minutes. The process of donating blood, Simenson said, is usually less than 60 minutes.

“If you could save somebody’s life in less than an hour,” she said, “would you?”


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