Blood drives have been seeing increased success at the UI

BY DANIEL SEIDL | APRIL 22, 2014 5:00 AM

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Students at the University of Iowa have been pumping up blood donations this year.

“In the past year, our student organization of the DeGowin Blood Center has really taken a more active role,” said DeGowin blood drive coordinator Heather Roman. “They were really gung-ho about this organization.”

The center saw a significant increase in donations in the UI residence halls this year. In 2013, eight units of blood were collected from a drive in Currier, and that figure increased to 30 units in 2014. The center collected 24 units at the Hillcrest in 2013, 28 in 2014. The Greek Week blood drive collected 88 units in 2013, 93 in 2014.

DeGowin donor center supervisor Paula Dayton credits the increase to the DeGowin student organization. The DeGowin Blood Center is a hospital-based blood center at the UI Hospitals and Clinics.

“I would attribute it to starting a student organization and really having them champion the residence-hall blood drives,” she said. “We felt in the past that there were a lot of students in there, and we thought that we could be seeing more people.”

Kristy Sakurai, the president of the organization, said in an email the organization seeks to encourage donations — even if they aren’t blood.

“Whether it’s donating blood knowing that it’s for a good cause and it is directly benefitting another person’s life or donating time to help the blood drives so then others can donate their blood …” she said.

The organization found new ways to bring more students into the blood drives, Roman said.

“We’ve let them kind of decide how they want to recruit,” she said. “Obviously, it was very successful.”

Some of the new methods the organization has been working on include fliers, T-shirts, and a rewards program for donors, Sakurai said.

The increase in student blood donations isn’t just limited to the UI, said Red Cross communications program manager Brian Gomez.

“In recent years, we have seen our numbers go up, especially among college students,” he said. “About 20 percent of our numbers nationwide come from high-school and college students.”

A big reason for this shift nationwide is more advertising, especially using social media, Gomez said.
“We’ve really tried to be more visible on college campuses with a lot of outreach efforts,” he said.
Sakurai said the blood drives at the UI are different from many others.

“Ours directly goes to the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics to help their patients, many of whom are locals to this community,” she said. “Rather than going to a blood center that is willing to pay its donors for their blood, which doesn’t directly go to people who need it.”

While this year certainly saw an improvement, Roman said she hopes this trend will continue.

“We definitely hope that as the student organization [continues to take] a more active role … I hope that we get more membership which in turn cycles around that we get more donorship,” she said.

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