Stony Brook University’s Student Blood Drive Committee hosted a 9/11 memorial blood drive on Sept. 9 in the Student Union Ballroom, partnering with the New York Blood Center to fight the blood shortage currently affecting blood centers and hospitals.
This lifeline blood supply has recently reached a critical shortage. Yadira Navarro, business development manager of donor recruitment at the New York Blood Center, describes this current blood shortage as a “two-front war,” resulting from the pandemic. The blood center is unable to collect the same amount of blood as before the pandemic, while the need for blood has surpassed the pre-pandemic levels.
Without the ability to host vital blood drive events at high schools, college campuses and businesses throughout the pandemic, the shortage continued to worsen.
Blood transfusions are a crucial part of life to trauma victims, cancer patients and those suffering from chronic blood conditions. It is estimated that 4.5 million people in America are saved by blood transfusions each year.
For Stony Brook student Matthew Guidi, blood transfusions hit close to home. In November 2018, Guidi, a senior computer science major, was involved in a major car accident that left him with substantial internal bleeding. He was told he needed three units of blood while being transported to the hospital just to keep him stable.
“That helped keep me alive,” Guidi, a regular blood donor said. “I see the impact of it within myself, so I need to give back at least through that. I have to keep donating until I’m at least even.”
A healthy blood supply is generally a seven day supply of each blood type. During this most recent shortage, the blood center is down to a two to three day supply of most blood types, and a half day to one day supply of O-negative.
“Our O-negative is really valued because that’s our universal donor,” Navarro said. “Thankfully we’ve been able to meet the hospital’s needs, but it’s really been cutting it close. I’ve never heard of a half day supply of any blood type; that makes me a little nervous, but we’ve always pulled through.”
The severity of the blood shortage is heightened by the fact that there are no alternative options for blood transfusions. Donations are the only source for the nation’s blood supply.
“When you see it like that, what if there was no blood?” Guidi said, referring to his accident. “Then I’m screwed. I don’t really have a shot at that point.”
However, Navarro is optimistic that the blood shortage may end as soon as this week. The 9/11 memorial blood drive contributed greatly to the blood center, with over 140 donations made.
“I can’t stress enough that our drive today makes us so grateful and proud because Stony Brook is such a great supporter. The Stony Brook Blood Drive Committee, they really do a fantastic job spearheading everything,” Navarro said.
Danielle Hood, a senior biology major and president of the Blood Drive Committee, urges everyone to join the millions of donors that make survival stories like Guidi’s possible.
“You save a life. How can it get better than that?” Hood said. “You’re literally saving someone’s life.”
Some people may be hesitant or nervous about donating blood, anxious about the needles, the pain or giving up their blood for somebody else. “That momentary amount of pain, think about it. It goes a long way,” Guidi, who has a phobia of needles himself, said. “The blood will end up saving someone else, and they may even be going through a lot more significant pain than you are right now, just doing that momentary donation, and it really does impact people.”
The Blood Drive Committee will be hosting two more blood drives this fall semester, and urges students to participate and do their part to save a life, just as others did to save one of Stony Brook University’s own.