Accommodations for blood donations


Kelly Stiles

Freshman nursing student Charlie Handly donates blood for the first time.

Kelly Stiles, Editor In Chief, The Oracle

The sound of whirring machines and the song “Intentions” by Justin Bieber filled the air of the Arkansas Blood Institute blood donation truck as phlebotomists briskly and skillfully maneuvered in the tight space. The truck made use of the limited space with a narrow cushioned bench for those waiting, three small “rooms” dedicated to screening donors before drawing their blood, and four laid-back chairs where donation participants relax while their blood is extracted. The truck remained nestled in front of the Womack Building between Garrison and Mooney over the course of Sept. 17 and 18.


“Because of COVID people are not donating as often,” donor recruitment director Vince Maniace said.


While no hospital resident is in danger yet, there is a shortage of all blood types which could lead to endangered lives. Under the onslaught of COVID-19, the public is told to avoid gathering in close proximity to others, and donating blood requires being close to a phlebotomist for a brief amount of time so they can administer a blood withdrawal. The distance to the phlebotomist was made even closer due to the lack of space in the truck, though masks were worn by everyone involved and all seats were disinfected after use.


“I was hesitant to volunteer but I know there are safe measures in place,” 18-year-old Brittany Newsom said.


Wanting to become a phlebotomist one day, following in the footsteps of her grandmother, mother, and sister who work in the medical field, Newsom was excited to donate blood for the first time. Newsom is from Pearcy, Ark. and while visiting her friend in Arkadelphia she heard about the blood drive and wanted to participate.


“Your first time giving blood is like your first time driving a car,” Maniace said. “It is nerve-racking but exciting.”


Vince Maniace recruits blood donors in the Garrison adjacent to the Reddie Grill. (Kelly Stiles)


As the daughter of a nurse, freshman nursing student Charlie Handly believes donating blood is important because her mom has witnessed how blood donations help people every day. In addition, Handly’s grandmother received blood donations as part of cancer treatment.


“Give blood,” Handly said. “It doesn’t hurt very much and it helps people.”


While a healthy person can donate blood every 56 days, donated red blood cells have a shelf life of only 42 days. The blood type O negative is most needed as it can be universally donated to every other blood type and is used on ambulances and with newborn babies.


“Blood is continuously needed because it has an expiration date,” Maniace said.


One must weigh at least 110 lbs. and be 18 years of age to donate without parental consent. If donating blood is costly to one’s health, such is the case with those with severe anemia which is an iron deficiency, then it is not recommended that they give blood. Those who have or have been exposed to contagious illness cannot give blood either, as diseased blood could contaminate the recipient.


During this drive, over 80 students and faculty donated blood which exceeded the Arkansas Blood Institute’s goal of 70 participants, or 35 per day. A single donation can be donated to up to three people. The blood collected during this drive will potentially impact the lives of 206 Arkansans.


“I am really impressed with the quality of the students,” Maniace said. “Those that were too scared to donate or could not for other reasons were more than willing to assist by sharing with friends. That is something I have never seen before.”


Every person who donates blood receives a free t-shirt. If one forgoes the t-shirt, the Arkansas Blood Institute donates five dollars to the Global Blood Fund which assists the medical needs of those in developing countries.


“Even on a bad day, I know I am making a difference,” Maniace said.


When a hospital patient receives blood, the recipient has a choice of going to where they can send a message to the blood donor thanking them for their sacrifice. A green heart located on every blood bag reminds them of this option.


The next Henderson blood drive will take place on Feb. 3 and 4 of 2021.