Orono Blood Drive Swings Into Action


Ella Fellman

Students donate blood to the local blood drive.

Last week, Orono held its second blood drive of the year. This blood drive was extremely successful. All of the slots to donate blood were filled by the time the drive rolled around. The need for blood has always been high, but lately it has become a scarce product. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a huge blood shortage in the United States because of the lack of ability to have blood drives.

According to Maya Yang, a research analyst for the Guardian newspaper, “Since March 2020, there has been a 10% overall blood donation decline across the nation. The pandemic has contributed to a 62% drop in blood drives across schools and colleges,” Yang said.

COVID-19 has caused blood donations to decrease at a very rapid rate due to staffing-shortage issues. Misinformation regarding donor eligibility and an overall decrease in blood drive access has largely contributed to the local blood shortage. Additionally, various blood drives have been canceled due to risks concerning the coronavirus.

“As a result of the shortage, the Red Cross, which supplies 40% of the country’s blood supply, has had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals,” Yang said.

Doctors are being forced to make very tough moral calls about who receives blood and who does not, simply because there is not enough for everyone. Hospitals are understaffed and filled to the brim with COVID cases, among other things.

“We’re in a blood crisis right now and a lot of people need blood. In fact, almost all blood is used within 24 hours after being processed,” Patrick Stephenson, vice chair of student senate said.

Despite everything happening with the Coronavirus, other hospital concerns have not gone away. For instance, Oliva Fegers is a senior at Orono who prioritizes donating blood on a regular basis, because of different medical concerns within her family.

“​​My grandpa recently passed away, but he had blood cancer. He had a lot of blood transfusions and stuff. I just figured, if there’s someone out there that has the same type of blood I have and can use it and I can save someone so their family and they don’t have to go through that loss like I did,” Fegers said.

The OHS student senate has become increasingly aware of this huge problem facing the U.S.

“A lot of people need blood right now. Especially with people getting sick. And the reason pandemics are made a lot harder for the medical world with everything.” Stephenson said.

Senate has done a lot of work to make donating blood the best experience they can. They provided snacks and put a movie on for students to watch while they were waiting after donating. The only thing that changed for students participating in the blood drive is they have to wear masks. Most students had a very positive experience with the staff and the overall process.

“The nurse I had was amazing. She was so funny and we found the vein right away. It only took seven minutes to get a bag,” Fegers said.

Students before giving blood were very positive about their upcoming experience. Senior Sydney Heckmann was giving blood for the second time through the OHS blood drive.

“I’m pretty chill about it. Last time I was nervous because I hadn’t done it before,” Heckmann said.

Although it may be daunting to sit with a needle in your arm, it’s for a positive outcome during desperate times. Heckmann, like many others, “just don’t have a reason not to donate.” If you are unable to donate blood, you can participate in the cause by volunteering or spreading the word in the community.

“People who have received a US-authorized Covid-19 vaccine, including those from Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer, can donate blood and platelets, so long as they have no symptoms and feel well,” Yang said.

Given this information, next time the blood drive comes to OHS, please consider donating on behalf of the community.