SDSU students donate most blood to East River Blood Banks

By Pat Bowden Reporter

Numbers don’t lie. According to the Community Blood Bank, SDSU is ranked as the top destination for blood donations east river in South Dakota. Donating blood is a money- free way for college students to give back to their communities and a gift that could potentially save up to three lives when it’s needed.

“It’s amazing how an individual can donate a pint of blood and 30 minutes of their time and save three peoples lives in the community,” said Community Blood Bank worker and current director Ken Versteeg. “One donation goes so far … the donation is almost immeasurable.” The Community Blood Bank is only one of the blood donation organizations that make frequent stops to campus, another being the American Red Cross. The Community Blood Bank drives their mobile donation busses around to different areas where they’ll typically stay for a couple

of days, whereas the American Red Cross rents out a room for an extended period of time and sets up operation there, according to Mariah Weber, the wellness coordinator at the Wellness Center.

“The Community Blood Bank is more popular here on campus … The blood bank is so easy to work with and once you do it once it’s nice to go back because you know how long it takes and the relationship you have with them,” Weber said.

According to Versteeg, SDSU statistically gives more donations than anywhere else in the state.

“SDSU is the largest blood collection we have East River … I would say that in the fall, we will see between 400 and 500 donations between all the blood drives combined, which is stellar for student participation,” Versteeg said. “I think there’s a lot of community minded individuals here on campus, they see they’re impacting lives for only donating blood but for other nonprofit organizations.” Also according to Versteeg,

the Community Blood Bank sees that on campus 20 to 25 percent of donations are first timers, which is double the national average of 10 to 12 percent.

“[Donating] makes me feel like people do need blood and I see no reason to not give blood, it’s just a good thing to do,” said sophomore pre- pharmacy major Luke Iglinski. “I just saw the Bloodmobile out there and decided to donate … It’s just doing a good deed and it doesn’t bother me, and it’s helping people out that need blood and I feel good and proud after.”

Iglinski has donated blood 12 times. Fellow sophomore and health education major Emily Kirchner has similar reasons to why Iglinski donates, and it has become a habit for her to donate when the Bloodmobile shows up on campus.

“It’s just a good thing to do and it’s an easy way to help out … The first time we did it was because we were on [high school] Student Council so they encouraged us to do it,” Kirchner said. “These guys [Community Blood Bank] that are here have it down to a science, they get you in pretty quick, it’s the best blood bank to go to … A lot of my friends give because they always have and a lot of them started in high school.”

Different colleges within SDSU hold their own donation events, as well; one of which is now continuously held every semester by the Wellness Center through the Community Blood Bank, which sees 50 to 60 donations on average per event, with a total of 129 donations since it began.

“We try to do one [blood donation event] a semester at the Wellness Center, but on campus I want to say I see their [Community Blood Banks] bus every couple of weeks. Different colleges can sponsor

different events,” Weber said. “For the amount of time that we do them, that’s a lot of donations.”

The Community Blood Bank usually doesn’t have an empty appointment sheet for long when they set up their table in The Union. Often, students will sign up without being asked, according to Versteeg.

“Usually what we see here is setting up [a] table and having the opportunity to donate, people will show up. Most of the time we have a full appointment schedule, [which is] excellent,” Versteeg said.

The high student donation turnout rate can’t be attested to any sort of way for students to get a fast dollar, as it is a nonprofit procedure on both ends. However, there are a few reasons to explain this.

“I think students give a lot of blood because someone in their family has been affected, so they want to support this cause because someone they know has been in that situation,” Weber said. “It’s a way for people to give back without finances which is why I think it’s so huge among college students.”

Versteeg, said an attractive aspect of donating blood it that it could benefit men later in life.

“Interestingly enough, there was a study done by Kansas State University that followed 5000 men that donated blood at least three times a year and found that it reduced heart disease up 86 percent,” Versteeg said. “I think that because there’s more of an awareness [for donating] on campus, many people consider it an opportunity to give back to the community.”

The Community Blood Bank that comes to campus operates out of Sioux Falls and serves towns and cities within a 200- mile radius. “I encourage people to give blood, it’s basically painless. The needle isn’t as bad as it seems,” Iglinski said.