Second annual Sept. 11 blood drive adds staff, hours

The blood drive will be held from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday in the McNamara alumni center.

Chelsie Hanstad

It took less than three days for coordinators to fill every appointment for the second annual University and Red Cross Sept. 11 blood drive.

The drive is the largest in the five-state region, organizer Brian Shekleton said.

The University’s Academic Health Center sent an e-mail to students Saturday, and by Monday morning organizers had as many donors signed up as they could accommodate.

The drive – which will take place from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the McNamara alumni center Thursday – is two hours longer than last year and moved from its previous location, Northrop Mall.

Shekleton said the increased interest in donating blood since Sept. 11, 2001, has led to a deluge of donors.

“(It’s a way for people) to honor the memory of the folks who died during 9-11,” he said.

Last year the blood drive collected 174 units, which is why the Red Cross is staffing more people and offering longer hours this year, Shekleton said.

“The response has been just overwhelming,” he said.

Last year recipients benefited from donations less than one week later, Shekleton said.

He added that several campus groups also hold annual blood drives at the University, but the Sept. 11 drive far surpasses them in size.

While Red Cross workers face a full schedule Thursday, the Red Cross said it will take all precautions to ensure safety while drawing blood.

Needles and bags are discarded after one use, making it impossible for disease to be spread, according to the Red Cross Web site. Each donor is also given a brief physical and has his or her temperature, pulse, blood pressure, blood count and medical history checked.

Blood is also tested to make sure it is free of HIV, syphilis and hepatitis. This year, for the first time, the blood will also be screened for West Nile virus.

Once donated, the blood goes wherever it is needed – including emergency situations, cancer patients and people with blood disorders. Patients who need regular transfusions to live benefit particularly from blood donors, according to the Red Cross.