By Kerry Steinhofer, Copy Editor
Asbury hosts two blood drives every year to encourage students to donate their blood to local hospitals. With participation on the decline, the Health Services Staff hopes next week’s drive will attract more donors.
“We are going down in numbers,” said Health Services Staff Assistant Tracy Osburn. “I don’t know why, and I even go out myself and try to get people to donate. I don’t have as much luck as I used to.”
According to records from the Kentucky Blood Center, the highest turnout at an Asbury blood drive was three years ago with 113 students and 89 pints donated. While these numbers were unusually high, student participation has been declining ever since.
Last semester marked a a five-year low. Seventy seven students came to the blood drive, but only 55 pints of blood were donated. While there may be a larger amount of students wanting to participate, some of them do not meet the requirements in order to donate.
While Asbury hosts blood drives through the Kentucky Blood Center, students have received information via CPO about plasma donations, which is not endorsed by Asbury, but is still a tempting offer.
A plasma donation is not the same as giving blood through the blood drive. When you donate plasma, a pint of your blood is taken and is sold to drug companies to produce drug like products for life-saving purposes.
According to the Kentucky Blood Center, 55 percent of your blood is composed of plasma, which is the liquid part of your blood. When you donate your plasma, the blood donated is then separated to take out the plasma. Once the plasma is taken out, you are given back your red blood cells through IV fluid.
There are several pros and cons of donating plasma, while just donating blood is always the safest choice.
“You can donate plasma more often,” said Nurse and Health Educator Dawn Rightmire. If you donate whole blood, you are asked to wait 56 days between donations.
Donating plasma gives you quick cash for something so small and simple. The only way you can make money through donating blood is by participating in double impact. By being a double impact donor, you receive a $10 gift card. A double impact donation is donating two units of red blood cells instead of one. By donating more blood, it decreases the time before you can donate again because you’re giving double the amount.
“It’s very confusing if you don’t read the small print,” said Rightmire.
There are health risks with plasma while there is not a risk when donating blood. “With plasma, they are putting some of the cells back and taking out a large number of the fluid (water), so this causes people to have problems with dehydration and feeling faint,” said Rightmire.“It’s very hard to find negative things about plasma because they don’t want it out there.”
There are other health risks involving immunity because of donation. While there are ways to prevent side effects, there is always the risk of complications later on if you become a regular donor.
“There are almost always shortages of blood,” Rightmire continued. To get more people to donate, the blood center will try to draw people in to donate by having competitions, giving out prizes through drawings and giving away free items to those who donate.
The next blood drive hosted by Asbury will be held on March 8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the student center. Every donor will be entered to win a $25 Walmart gift card and will receive a free UK t-shirt that says, “My blood type is Wildcat blue.”