Hays battles for blood
By DAWNE LEIKER
To combat a winter shortfall in blood and platelet donations as well as an opportunity to win a friendly competition, Fort Hays State University and Hays High School students stepped up as blood donors this week.
Shortfalls in blood donations this winter have been a concern for the American Red Cross, as severe winter weather across much of Kansas forced the cancellation of 50 blood drives. Jan Hale, program manager for the American Red Cross, said the shortfall is more than 1,600 blood and platelet donations.
FHSU students and faculty began filtering into the Memorial Union Ballroom on Thursday morning to start the donation process. It was day two of the blood drive on campus, and so far, American Red Cross staff members were encouraged at the students' response.
"We kind of saw it in waves yesterday," said Ron Gilmore, team supervisor from Wichita. "A group would come in ... I would guess it was the break between classes."
The FHSU blood drive is held in competition with Emporia State University. Wednesday's FHSU drive netted participation of 129 donors, with 113 pints collected. FHSU typically averages approximately 250 pints of blood total for the two days, said Cathy Younger, American Red Cross donor recruitment representative for the Central Plains Region.
"I was really pleased," Younger said of the participation levels Wednesday. "And the donor flow was really smooth, there weren't a lot of lines.
"So it was a really good day."
Although HHS students exceeded by one pint their donation goal of 63 pints earlier in the week, they were bested in their annual competition with Great Bend, which generated 75 points.
"It was close," Younger said. "I think that will tie up the competition now.
"But next year's another year."
Gilmore said gaining the support of young donors is critical in meeting future needs for blood and platelets.
"We're trying to tap into the future because the majority, 90-plus percent of our donors are older donors," Gilmore said. "When you go to smaller towns and communities, there's not a lot of young kids coming in.
"So when we're in high schools and colleges, I personally go around and chat with donors and say, 'Are we going to see you in 56 days?' "
FHSU faculty members were among those being prepped for donation Thursday morning. For Anthony Gabel, assistant professor of business law, giving blood during the event was important for two reasons.
"The need for blood and also to support the organization that is running the drive," he said.
FHSU business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi provided volunteers for the drive, recruiting donors, setting up tables and helping throughout the two-day event. About 30 volunteers participated. Anna Weber, Halstead senior, has coordinated the event the last two years.
"I thought it was a good opportunity for me to give back," Weber said of her volunteer efforts. "It's such a good organization.
"I've really enjoyed it."