blood drive fall 2020

Iowa State's annual semester blood drive is this week from Oct. 6 to 8. 

From first timers to repeat donors of students and faculty, the first day of Iowa State’s first blood drive of the academic year brought out people from across the campus.

The Blood Drive student organization at Iowa State hosted their annual semester blood drive at Stephens Auditorium. Embracing both the never-ending need for blood and new safety measures, the drive aimed to be as efficient and as safe as possible while still trying to meet their donation goals.

Following Iowa State and American Red Cross’ lead, the blood drive implemented strategies like face coverings, social distancing, preliminary COVID-19 symptom checks and thorough cleaning of areas where donations occur between each donation.

“Having just one person come and donate adds up over time, and giving just a little bit of your time and a little bit of your blood could save three people,” said Olivia Pultorak, senior in kinesiology and health and co-president of the Blood Drive student organization. “So why someone should donate is strictly for the sake of humanity.”

While a blood drive is not anything new, the conditions around this one are new for the Blood Drive organization. With an air of doubt as to how successful this drive would be, a new service was offered on part of the Red Cross to donors — being able to tell the donor whether they have had COVID-19 in the past without knowing it.

The drive accomplished two things — satisfying curiosity from people who swore they had COVID-19 way back when but never went in for testing and gathering much needed antibodies for those currently fighting the virus. The new service is credited for the unexpected high turnout for the first day.

“It doesn’t matter how small, I just wanted to collect one unit of blood, so my expectations were really as low as they could have been,” Pultorak said. “But with the turnout even on just the first day, it greatly exceeded my expectations.”

To deter privacy concerns, the antibody test remains anonymous for the donor, and the status is never reported to either the Red Cross or Iowa State. Only metrics are passed along to either.

With initially low expectations due to current situations, those expectations were surpassed when a large number of donors and sponsors backed the event.

Ranging from businesses like Hy-Vee and Café Diem to on-campus groups like Phi Kappa Psi and Pi Beta Phi — plus a sweepstakes to entice those on the fence on whether or not they should donate — the blood drive showed off how it was just as important as ever.

Operating out of the auditorium this time, the blood drive, along with the help of American Red Cross, collected two different types of donations — the usual simple blood donation and a power red donation, both equally as important.

With varying reasons for donating at this drive, people of all calibers are all attributing to the cause.

First-time donor Collin Arndt, senior in political science, was not nervous for his first time donating. While it was not his idea, he was persuaded by his girlfriend.

In addition, Aidan Roy, freshman in mechanical engineering, and a good number of other Phi Kappa Psi fraternity members were there to donate. 

“I don’t feel dizzy at all,” Roy said as he sat at the cantina area, snacking after his donation.

Also there to donate was Steve Butler, professor of mathematics. Butler is a regular donor at blood drives and said he was happy to donate this time, even with current COVID-19 conditions.

The blood drive will continue this week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Thursday at Stephens Auditorium.

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