January’s blood drive on West Campus brought in over 300 donations, setting a Stony Brook University record for contributions in the month of January.
Susan Lingenfelter, business development manager of the New York Blood Center (NYBC), a nonprofit blood bank that supplies hospitals across the Northeastern United States, said that the donations Stony Brook received could save hundreds of lives.
“This was the best January drive in Stony Brook’s history,” Susan Lingenfelter said. “Because one pint of blood helps to save the lives of up to three people, more than 900 people’s lives were saved.”
The Stony Brook University Student Blood Drive Committee coordinates monthly blood drives throughout each semester that are operated by the NYBC. These drives usually collect 2,000 pints of blood per year at Stony Brook. In the Fall 2017 semester, 924 donations were collected. The most recent collection was held in Student Activities Center Ballroom A on Wednesday, Jan. 24.
January is a consistently demanding month for blood banks, Lingenfelter said, because schools like Stony Brook that host blood drives are largely inactive for most of the month.
“Winter is always more challenging than fall and spring,” Lingenfelter said. “Vacation times impact us because about 20 percent of our blood comes from schools, so when schools are closed that has a negative impact on us.”
Lingenfelter also added that harsh winter weather can further impede contributions, since schools often shut their doors during a storm.
“Snowstorms are the worst because schools almost immediately will close even if it doesn’t look like it’s going to be that bad, so we had two days of cancellations,” Lingenfelter said.
Between inclement weather and January’s government shutdown, which forced a number of blood drive events to be cancelled, Lingenfelter said the NYCB lost nearly 2,000 pints of blood the organization expected to collect.
“We lost 1,600 pints of blood that were scheduled to be collected,” Lingenfelter said of this past January. “It wasn’t blood we already collected that we lost but blood drives that were already in our calendar that were canceled.”
Dr. Dennis Galanakis, director of transfusion medicine for the Stony Brook University Hospital Blood Bank, said that donor turnout is a national issue and low rates during this time of year are not unique to the university.
When facing a low turnout, both groups distribute flyers and send emails to the campus community. According to the American Red Cross, 36,000 units of blood are needed in the United States every day. Dr. Galanakis encourages blood donations because it can have a significant impact on someone’s life.
“In our lifetime, there’s more than a 50% chance that at some point all of us will need transfusions,” he said.
The Stony Brook Blood Bank is open Monday through Saturday on the fifth floor in the main lobby area of Stony Brook University Hospital, suite 500.The blood bank accommodates walk-in donations when possible, but encourages advance appointments. The next on-campus blood drive will be held on Feb. 20 in SAC Ballroom A.