Blood drives and donations are nothing new for Jennie Chieco ‘17 and her family. Chieco’s sister was diagnosed at a young age with thalassemia major, a condition which causes the body to make an abnormal form of hemoglobin, resulting in the destruction of a number of red blood cells. Due to this condition, Chieco’s sister required blood transfusions every two weeks.
Chieco’s sister’s need for regular blood donations is what drove her to participate in numerous blood drives throughout high school and now college.
Chieco noted scary times in the winter and summer when there was a lack of blood available for her sister, something that she hopes to combat through blood drives.
“They know that she’s coming every two weeks and needs two units of blood every time she comes in, but imagine somebody comes in and they are in a car crash and they need 15 units of blood immediately, and they don’t have it for them.”
For this reason, Chieco always promotes blood donations, such as the blood drive that will take place on Oct. 26 and 27 in the Barone Campus Center Oak Room.
Hosted by the Fairfield Rotaract Club, this blood drive is an opportunity for students to donate their own blood in the hopes of saving another individual’s life. For freshman, attending this event will count as FYE Inspire credit.
For Chieco, the Red Cross representative for the Rotaract Club, blood drives are “a really great thing to do. It’s an hour of your time, and you can save three lives by doing it. It’s something that is really gratifying after you leave there.”
Junior Annie O’Neill, a frequent blood donor, agreed with Chieco that blood drives are “a really easy way to make a difference, and [they] usually take an hour or less.”
Co-president of the Rotaract Club Morgan Laiter ‘17 echoed O’Neill’s sentiments, adding that “As a nursing major, I recognize the great need for blood donations and hope to encourage more students to get involved by taking just an hour out of their day to change people’s lives.”
“I’ve always gotten good vibes from all the Red Cross workers and really appreciate how hard they work to keep people donating,” O’Neill added.
Vice President of the Rotaract Club Megan Gallagher ‘17 added that if students don’t meet the physical requirements for donating blood, they can still do their part to help with the blood drive effort.
“For people like me who can’t donate, volunteering is the next best option and it is so important to the success of blood drives as a whole,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher went on to stress the pertinence of blood drives and how students can make a significant impact by donating blood.
“Roughly every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, which is why these blood drives are so important,” Gallagher said.
Despite this, however, Chieco noted that there is a lack of people actually donating blood around the world. According to Chieco, less than 5 percent of the U.S. population donates blood.
Chieco added that these numbers transfer to the Fairfield student body.
“As a campus, we have really only given 40 units of blood every year. We don’t have a lot of students who are giving or a lot of productive donations, which is really sad. We have about 3,500 students on this campus, so we should be getting way more than 40 donations.”
For this reason, the Rotaract Club has set a goal for this year’s October blood drive. According to Chieco, the Rotaract Club hopes to “at least have 100 signups and to at least get 80 productive units of blood.”
So far, the club is off to a good start, as after the initial sign-up dates, 70 people have signed up for the blood drive, Chieco said. She added that there will be additional dates for students to sign up for the blood drive on Oct. 23, so she feels that the Rotaract Club will be able to achieve their goal of 100 signups.
In addition, according to Gallagher, if the October blood drive receives a high number of donors that will allow for the ability for more people to donate in blood drives in the future.
“We also encourage as many people as we can to donate, because the more people we have, the more beds we will have for the next blood drive, which means we can have that many more donors,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher added that students are among those who are especially encouraged to donate blood, “because we are young and able to regain strength more quickly than adults.”
The Rotaract Club will be hosting additional blood drives throughout the remainder of the school year, on Feb. 1 and 2 and also on April 13. Chieco also added that the Rotaract Club is looking into putting on a blood drive over the summer that members of the Fairfield community could attend, as the club currently receives numerous blood donations from members outside the student body.