Out of every seven people who enter the hospital, one will need blood. If you donate, it could be your blood saving a life.
A blood shortage, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, has created an immense need for healthy individuals to donate, said Joe Fairbanks, territory manager for the blood donation organization Vitalant. Blood is a resource that can only be obtained by donations, and it has a limited shelf life.
“We have people with cancer, we have people with blood diseases, we have surgeries,” Fairbanks said. “Most people think of accidents or emergencies. That’s good and helpful. But the number one use of most of the blood, [is] cancer treatment patients, things like that, things that are every day.”
Blood drives are hosted almost every day in Moscow and Pullman, according to the Vitalant website. Donors can enter their zip code into the Vitalant website to create an appointment. Walk-ins are also an option, although appointments will be prioritized.
Donors must be 16 or older, Fairbanks said. Anyone under 18 will need to sign a minor consent form. Apart from age requirements, Vitalant checks health history, height and weight and recent travel to ensure safety for donors and recipients.
“[Staff has] been trained, they know what they’re doing, and it’s really not that long a process and you just feel better about yourself at the end of the day, too,” said Sarah Ensign, junior international business major, who donated her blood in December at Best Western in Moscow.
Vitalant gives all of the blood donated in the Pullman area to local hospitals such as Pullman Regional Hospital, St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, Gritman Medical Center in Moscow and Tri-State Memorial Hospital & Medical Campus in Clarkston.
“You will be saving your friends and neighbors when you donate with us,” Fairbanks said.
Vitalant also gives back to the community with high school and college scholarships, Fairbanks said. The organization aims to support students who support Vitalant.
“We had reached out to those people who had volunteered to see if they wanted to volunteer some more and help provide that opportunity for them,” Fairbanks said.
Vitalant will be hosting blood drives at WSU in February, March and April, Fairbanks said. The organization is looking for students to help coordinate and work the drives.
“If a class requires community service, or at the fraternity or sorority or any group that would require that, we would love to work with them to help get those set up so that we can have the blood drives on campus and they can get some engagement hours,” Fairbanks said.
You can contact Fairbanks to volunteer by phone at 1(559)790-0836 or email at [email protected].