Mel Rising Dawn Cordeiro
The Rhode Island Blood Center is holding its annual Black History Month Blood Drive on campus and asking the RIC community to make a blood donation for a good cause. This year’s blood drive will be next Wednesday, Feb. 8, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Parking Lot K.
Those who are planning to donate must bring their license or state issued identification with them. Donations are by appointment, the sponsor code is 0003, and can be scheduled using the QR code that can be found below:
Walk-ins are also accepted, but will be accepted based on availability at the time of arrival.
There are a few boxes one must check off before donating, including being well hydrated and having eaten something prior to donating. It is especially important to be well hydrated, as water opens up the veins and makes the donation process easier. Those looking to donate must be at least 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 lbs and be in general good health. It is okay for someone to donate blood if they have chronic conditions or take medication, but they must check with their personal doctor, call Health Services, or ask someone at the donation site if unsure, and have not donated within the last 56 days.
Alongside being hydrated and having eaten, getting adequate sleep, and eating meals with lean proteins such as lean meats, cheese, yogurt and meals with complex carbohydrates such as fruits and breakfast cereals is important. It’s also important to not eat, smoke or drink right before the appointment.
Please also note that in the state of Rhode Island, tattoo parlors are state regulated, meaning that they are legally required to use sterile needles for all tattoos. This means that people who are freshly tattooed can also give blood immediately after they are inked, provided they meet the other eligibility requirements. This is not the same in all states, so those who plan on donating in another state, check first to see if that state regulates tattoo parlors.
Upon arrival at the donation site, the process may take about 30 minutes. People donating will be asked some general questions regarding health and travel to help determine eligibility. Then their identification will be checked and their details verified. They will also check donators’ temperature, pulse and blood pressure, along with their hemoglobin. Hemoglobin levels are tested via a finger stick; think like when diabetic people test their sugar levels. Hemoglobin itself is a protein found in blood cells that carries oxygen to organs and tissues and aids in the transportation of carbon dioxide back to the lungs to be exhaled.
Once this is complete, the donation process will begin. A small spot on the donor's arm, typically near the inner elbow, will be cleaned and they will be stuck with a brand new, sterile needle. For those who have never donated before, this is the only part that hurts. Even then, it’s just a pinch.
After the donation is complete, the needle will be taken out and disposed of in a biohazard box. The sample will be labeled, not with personal information, but with a barcode and placed into a refrigerator.
Afterward, those who donated will be instructed to sit in a waiting area for observation. Some donation centers will provide snacks, but not all of them do. Typically, there is a 10 to 15 minute wait afterward to ensure the person donating blood is feeling well enough to go about their day. Unless one is afraid of needles, this is the only part of the donation in which there is a risk of getting sick. Potential risks include dizziness, headache, lightheadedness, etc., all which can be cured with something to eat.
At the end of the drive, donated blood gets delivered to the blood bank, where it gets processed, separated into red blood cells, plasma and platelets and gets packaged and put into the refrigerator until it’s needed. Simultaneously, another part of the donation is sent for typing and is screened for infectious diseases. These series of tests determine if the blood is okay for donation. If it isn’t, or if the lab catches something about the results, don’t worry – they will reach out to the person confidentially.
You may be asking how a blood drive ties in with Black History Month. The inventor of the process described above, Dr. Charles Drew, Massachusetts native and renowned surgeon, was African American. He is known as the “Father of the Blood Bank.” He broke down racial barriers in both his personal and professional life and many patients, going as far back as the 1940s, owe their lives to him.