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Tuesday, October 03, 2023 — Houston, TX

Rice hosts ‘pretty big blood drive’ in O’Connor building

Cali Liu / Thresher

By Jack Lee     9/14/23 10:44pm

Amid a national blood shortage exacerbated by ongoing climate emergencies, Rice Emergency Medical Services partnered with the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center to host a blood drive Sept. 12 in the new O'Connor Building for Engineering and Science.

Christina Gligorova, donor recruitment account manager at the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, said the blood drive at Rice would help address a pressing shortage of blood at Houston-area hospitals.

“As for the Gulf Coast, our region, we need 1,000 [pints] every single day, just to … supply 170 hospitals,” Gligorova said. “The demands from hospitals are going up every year. We need more and more blood. But since COVID, the amount of people donating has gone down, so we're trying to meet that demand to make sure that our patients always have the blood that they need.”

Gligorova said the blood drive is set to provide a significant supply of blood.

“We have 180 students signed up, so we're hoping to get over 100 [pints] of blood,” Gligorova said. “It's a pretty big blood drive for sure.”

According to Gligorova, donors must meet a set of criteria, including being 16 or older, with parental consent for minors, and weighing over 110 pounds for those over the age of 19. There are further guidelines for certain conditions, such as recent travel or antibiotic usage. 

The event was staffed by both professionals from Gulf Coast Blood Center and students in REMS. Eduardo Ruiz, a member of REMS, said he volunteered for the event to give back to the community.

“I like to help volunteer for the blood drive because I know that it's such a huge necessity in the medical field to help others for whatever treatments are needed,” Ruiz, a Jones College junior, said.

Among those donating, Emlyn Joniec, a biochemistry major, said she was inspired to donate by her experience working in hospitals.

“I [interned] in hospitals a couple of times, and one of the biggest problems that we had was that there were a lot of shortage issues, especially during the pandemic,” Joniec, a Jones sophomore, said. “It was really frustrating because it's one of those things where a lot of these people could receive treatment, could receive care if we had [blood] … I figured that I’d like to contribute where I can, so if that means donating blood, I’ll do it.”

Laura Kabiri, an assistant teaching professor of sports medicine, said she has donated blood frequently in her life.

“I think it’s a wonderful way to share what you have,” Kabiri said. “It’s perfectly safe and it’s a great way to save lives.”

Ryan Mattana, on the other hand, said this was his first time donating.

“I've never done it before,” Mattana, a Will Rice College freshman, said. “I think it’s a good thing to give back to the community.”

Olivia Gonzales, a freshman from Lovett College, said she was donating in part to challenge her fear of blood.

“I actually have a very large fear of blood, if I'm being completely honest,” Gonzales said. “I wanted to experience it and see my reaction to it and chase my fear, and help people in the process.”

Hanna Frampton, a senior from Sid Richardson College, said a reason why she came out to donate was her favorable blood type.

“I have a couple of REMS friends, so they were like, ‘Do you want to donate?’” Frampton said. “I have O-positive blood, so I'm available to donate a little bit more than other people.”

Concern for close ones, Gligorova said, was her motive for being involved with blood donations.

“At the end of the day, you never know if you'll need it, if a family member you love might need it,” Gligorova said. “You always want to make sure that it's there if someone needs it, because if someone gets into an accident, gets sick and there's no blood for them, that would be really, really bad.”

Lisa Basgall, the director of REMS, said the strong showing at the blood drive exemplifies the Rice community.

“Each donation can save up to three lives,” Basgall said. “Having donors ranging from first year students to post-docs, staff from many departments and faculty shows Rice at its best.”

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