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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggies encourage others to donate blood amidst national supply shortage

A+stack+of%26%23160%3Bvacutainers+sit+in+the+American+Red+Cross+blood+donation+center+on+Wednesday%2C+Oct.+18%2C+2023.%26%23160%3B%26%23160%3B
Photo by Karis Olson

A stack of vacutainers sit in the American Red Cross blood donation center on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023.  

As Aggies look to the winter season, the need for blood donations nationwide has surged while the existing blood supply has decreased. 

Student organizations, such as the University Blood Initiative, or UBI, said they are looking to fix this issue through education and outreach. Biomedical engineering senior Fouzul Kansul, the president of UBI at Texas A&M, said the nationwide organization is new to campus and exists to host and staff blood drives at least once a month.

“There are about 31,000 pints of blood used in the United States every day, and a blood transfusion is needed every two seconds,” Kansul said. “There is a very high demand for [blood products], but there is not sufficient supply.”

The blood shortage was first announced by the American Red Cross North Texas Region, and in a Sept. 27 statement, said they are asking people to book a time to donate. 

“The Red Cross must collect 10,000 additional blood products each week over the next month to meet hospital and patient needs,” the statement reads. 

The Red Cross supplies blood products to hospitals across north Texas, but the main supplier of blood products to the Bryan-College Station area is the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, Kansul said, as most A&M blood drives are hosted through there.

Cameron Palmer, the public relations specialist for the Gulf Coast Blood Center said while there’s no shortage in Bryan-College Station, it’s best to always remain vigilant. The Red Cross said the nation’s blood supply dropped by around 25% after one of the busiest travel and back-to-school seasons. 

“[The shortage] challenges the organization’s ability to collect a sufficient amount of blood products to meet the needs of hospitals across the country,” the statement reads.

Palmer said for the Gulf Coast area, there needs to be around 1,000 donations every day to cover the local hospital’s needs, including Houston Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world. 

“Blood is used for … cancer patients, or patients going into surgery, trauma victims, burn victims — there are so many different needs for blood,” Palmer said. “Our medical centers are always needing blood for these patients, and that is never going to change.”

Universities and corporate blood drives are one of the main sources of blood donations, according to the Gulf Coast Blood Center. It’s especially important people donate now because as the holidays approach, there’s typically a decline in donations, as people are traveling and school is out, Palmer said. 

“If every eligible donor were to donate at least 3 pints a year, those shortages would be drastically reduced,” Kansul said. “I would suggest making an effort to educate [students] on the blood crisis would help [to increase donations]. A lot of student organizations host blood drives as part of their semester events, so just keeping an eye out for events would help.”

As a part of their educational initiative, UBI is hosting a blood drive on Oct. 26 at the Student Recreation Center and another on Nov. 2 on campus, with an exact location yet to be determined. 

The Gulf Coast Blood Center opened a new donor center earlier this year, located at 1015 Krenek Tap Rd. in College Station. Palmer said he encourages students to donate, even if a blood drive is not currently underway. 

“We have a very well-trained staff, and they work very hard to minimize your level of discomfort,” Palmer said. “At the end of the day, you are saving someone’s life in our community.”

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