BUFFALO,N.Y.- The average person who works, eats, sleeps, and repeats, is able to save up to three lives in under an hour with no prior training. How is this possible you might ask? It’s simple- blood donation.
Unyts is a Western New York blood center where all the blood that is donated locally stays in local hospitals to help patients. Unyts was established in 1981 and is headquartered in downtown Buffalo. Unyts is one of eight centers to house organ, eye, and tissue in one building. It is also the first organization of its kind to add community blood service to the list. Unyts provides blood and organs to eight counties of Western New York.
“Our mission is to spread awareness about organ, eye, tissue, and blood donation,” Alexsandria Gullo, the blood drive coordinator, states about the Unyts mission. “We never want someone to not donate blood or donate their organ, eye, and tissue when the time comes because of a misconception.”
37 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood but only around 10 percent of our citizens donate annually. Encouraging people to donate and continue donating throughout their entire lives is a constant goal of Unyts. A pint of blood can last for as long as 42 days but considering that someone in the U.S. needs blood every two seconds it usually won’t last the allotted time.
Organ donors are able to save up to 50 lives and nearly 124,000 people are waiting for a transplant, with approximately 10 percent from Western New York. You are able to sign up to be a donor at any time.
“Let your families know your wishes, speak to them so they know if it is something you are interested in or not,” says Gullo. “Let them know so if the time comes, they don’t have to make that challenging decision themselves and they are able to live out your wish.”
A recruiter’s job is to talk to anyone and everyone. They are charged with the mission to explain the simple process to someone who hasn’t given blood before, someone that you can easily see the nervousness in their eyes but also the potential excitement to save lives and do a good act of kindness. One could also see the disappointment in several people’s faces when they found out they cannot donate due to lack of iron, blood pressure, or recently having a tattoo (which needs to be a year old). Everyone has some need, however deep inside, to give back. This recruiter could be found running around college campus’s encouraging people to come donate at the blood drive.
Niagara University Blood Drive
The blood drive at Niagara University, that occurred on November 16 and 17 in Lower Level Gallagher, is always backed with extreme support from all of the students on campus and off. The main
supporters of the blood drives on campus are the ROTC officers and the student athletes.
To bring a little competition to the field and to encourage more donations, the Unyts team decided to pin Niagara teams against teams from different sports and club sports to win a prize and bragging rights.
Gullo elucidated that they chose the donation time between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. because most students go to eat or start to do homework after 4 p.m. It is a nice chunk of time, usually between classes, and they have found that time works best in college settings, recounted Gullo.
“I donate to help save lives,” expressed Ashley Smith a first year grad student. “Being an EMT, I know what a patient looks like that needs a blood transfusion.”
People such as Smith are the type of generous people that donate their blood. There are always kind, trained professionals that are able to help you though the giving process and strike up interesting conversation.
“I was in the army,” mentions Jonathon Carey, a phlebotomist. “I learned that you could change a person’s blood type if you transfused a certain type long enough. So an A+ blood type could turn into an AB+ with enough transfusions, neat, right?”
Gullo explains how at NU, in addition to the sports competition, there is a community service component that not many colleges or universities offer. The chance for the students to gain the feeling of giving life and get rewarded with some community service hours, offers Gullo, is an incredible opportunity for the Unyts staff to up the pint numbers.
“I don’t have a desirable blood type,” reported Madeline Sgarlata, a freshmen at Niagara University who gave blood during the drive. “But I know that someone out there needs it and it will help someone.”
Unyts has numerous blood drives all around Buffalo with the Buffalo Bills, local high schools, and drives to pit college rivals against each other for a battle of who can donate more (Canisius and Niagara, coming up in the Spring Semester).
Donating is an amazing experience that allows you to give life to another human by only sitting in a chair for 30 minutes. Go on down to Unyts, as they accept walk-ins, and Donate Life today!
-Jade King, PRSSN