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Students "Give from the Heart" at university blood drive

Credit: India Price/ Credit: India Price/

Blood drives on college campuses have soared in popularity in recent years. Over the past few years, posters are often seen around campus that advertise blood donations and there have been multiple occasions where students could walk by Rangos Hall in the University Center and see donors reclining on gurneys. In fact, Carnegie Mellon is one of the leading universities in blood donations, a fact that is especially relevant in a city as medically advanced as Pittsburgh. This past Thursday, Feb. was the University’s most recent blood drive, which was held in the Connan Room in the Cohon Center from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Debra James Bailey, a scheduling services specialist in the university registrar’s office and Carnegie Mellon’s blood drive coordinator, has been involved with the Central Blood Bank (CBB) since 1988. As a survivor and recipient of blood transfusions, Bailey has since coordinated the campus blood drives as a means of giving back. She believes that though Carnegie Mellon students are highly involved, they stand to gain a lot by donating blood. “By taking an hour of their busy schedules and focusing on another individual’s needs, [the act of donating] should have [students] totally experiencing a high like no other,” Bailey said.

While many people may regard giving blood as a tedious charity, it only takes one hour and is a fairly simple process. In order to give blood, blood drive coordinators advise donors to eat before and after donating blood and to be in good health, all of which lends donors to being in the best state possible so they can lie down and allow a nurse to pump a healthy amount of blood from their body.

While the process is far from fun, the importance of giving blood is unparalleled when considering the impact just one donation makes. For every bag of blood donated, three hospital patients are helped. “A person can have a dramatic impact on others who they most likely will never have the opportunity to meet,” Bailey said. The city of Pittsburgh, recognized internationally for its advanced medical facilities, has a high demand for such donations, given that patients from across the country come to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for its advanced health care and facilities that other hospitals often do not provide.

The CBB is one of four centers overseen by the Institute of Transfusion Medicine throughout the country. Locally, CBB is the sole provider for over 40 medical facilities in the region. They are also in a partnership with the National Bone Marrow Registry to assist in research and provide components for patients that may need transplants. For instance, the “Be the Match” registry is a program that matches donors with patients. Additionally, CBB is a member of the Western Pennsylvania Hemophilia Center to provide care for those with bleeding disorders. CBB is a vital contributor to the medical profession, and is thus appropriately reliant on Carnegie Mellon’s donations.

Both Bailey and John R. Papinchak, Carnegie Mellon’s university registrar, have been engaged in this program for nearly thirty years. While Bailey can no longer donate blood due to an autoimmune disorder, her efforts with Papinchak have not gone unnoticed. The University is widely recognized and lauded for its ability to give back to the community, and Carnegie Mellon University received an award for “The Top Twenty Corporate Donor Program with The Central Blood Bank” in 2015, along with an additional fifteen awards.

Blood drives take place at Carnegie Mellon University every semester. Information is posted around campus prior to the event. For more information about upcoming blood drives at Carnegie Mellon and how to get involved, students can contact Bailey at dj0y@andrew.cmu.edu.