Aug 15, 2020

All types, one cause: donating blood

Juan Villa / The Collegian

For the past five years, Fresno State senior Kim Curtis has been saving the lives of many in the Central Valley. She’s not a nurse, a policeman or a firefighter — she’s a blood donor.

Curtis was only one of 53 people who donated blood on Tuesday, the first day of this week’s three-day blood drive event. The Central California Blood Center (CCBC) set up a main donor station in the Residence Dining Hall and had 5 other locations scattered around campus for students’ convenience. On Wednesday night, 356 people donated 290 pints of blood and on Thursday, 310 more registered.

“Everyone always talks about doing your part and helping people out,” Curtis said. “[Donating blood] is just one thing that’s so small that can really make a difference.”

Students like Curtis are exactly what blood centers are looking for.

Lynn Stone, donor recruiter for the CCBC, said that the campus is a prime location to find potential donors. The reasons being not only because college students are typically healthier — which makes them better candidates for donating — but also because people are more likely to become routine donors if they start at a young age.

“The sooner we get people used to donating blood, the sooner we get them used to [seeing] how important it is, [and] to keep them in that cycle so that they can continue to donate,” Stone said. “We need people that are willing to give blood on a regular basis.”

Helping Stone and the CCBC to recruit local donors were seniors Gary Lalanne and Jeremiah Lapomardo. Both students aided in promoting and advertising the blood drive for their Marketing 100S class, marketing concepts. Lalanne and Lapomardo were also among the first ones to give up a pint of blood each.

“With how many natural disasters that have been going on in the world lately, the blood’s definitely needed because who knows when something’s going to happen here in the Valley,” Lalanne, a first time donor, said.

Lapomardo, having donated twice already while he was in high school, knew the importance of continuing to donate. He said that accidents like the recent Highway 99 car pile up can happen at any time, so “it’s important that there’s a complete supply of blood for everybody.”

Because the CCBC is the main supplier for 31 hospitals in five counties — Fresno, Mariposa, Kings, Madera and Tulare — keeping a steady supply can be difficult if people don’t continue to donate, Stone said.

The main reasons people are wary to donate blood are either because they fear the process will be painful or because they feel they don’t have the time. Stone said in actuality, the entire process — including necessary paperwork — takes about 30 to 45 minutes plus,the needle is small enough to where it is painless for most.

Senior Yessica Martinez made the decision “to keep another life going,” despite her hatred for needles.

“It’s nice to know that you have something in your body that can actually save someone else,” Martinez said. “And you’ll get it back in eight weeks.”

It was Martinez’s third time showing up to the event, but only her second time donating blood. The first time she decided to donate blood she almost passed out and had to have the needle taken out.

But once another opportunity to donate came around, Martinez forgot about her fear and said it was much easier to get through.

Curtis admits that the first time she donated she “almost freaked out,” but then realized that it was only a mental obstacle for her and that there were people in need of her blood. This is why she continues to donate about every eight weeks — the time period is necessary to allow the body to replace the lost red blood cells — and will continue to do so for as long as she can.

“When you see a homeless person, you give them a dollar. When you see someone in pain, you always want to help them,” Curtis said. “And even though you can’t see the person [that’s receiving your blood], it’s pretty obvious there’s people out there who need it. You should always help those who need [it].”

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