Many people hold a connection to local healthcare facilities: Primary Children’s Hospital, the Huntsman Cancer Institute or the University of Utah Hospital.
Weber State University and Northern Utah Academy of Math, Engineering and Science (NUAMES) associates found time this past Monday to show their appreciation for the hospitals by donating blood at a blood drive manned by ARUP, another local business.
A student organization from NUAMES liked the idea of a blood drive, and teamed up with students from Weber State’s Davis programming board.
Gabriela Castellanos, a Weber State freshman who helped plan the event, said working with NUAMES made the event much easier.
“I didn’t have to do everything by myself. They got in contact with ARUP and I made sure we had the ballroom reserved,” she said.
Students, faculty and others filed into the D3 Ballroom to fill out paperwork and get their blood drawn. Prior to donating, students had to be passed off as “healthy.”
According to Aubrey Hogan, a Donor Collection Specialist (DCS) trainee with ARUP, there were multiple things they checked potential donors for.
“We want to make sure the patients who receive the blood transfusions are safe, but also that people who are donating remain safe,” she said.
They checked for heart, iron deficiency and blood pressure issues prior to taking any blood. ARUP also questioned people about having been out of country recently. If they had traveled, they checked with the Centers for Disease Control to ensure there had not been any malaria outbreaks in that region.
John Bieniek, a NUAMES senior who is in his second year in the Weber State early college program, took a minute to donate during his spare time.
“I have not donated before, but it was kind of relaxing after the initial sting of the needle,” Bieniek said.
He thought the staff were friendly and mentioned they kept up conversation during the process.
Donors were provided with a free t-shirt and refreshments as a thank you after giving blood.
Specialists from ARUP admitted that some people interested in donating blood were a little queasy about the thought.
The DCS lead from ARUP, Jennifer Swenson, said they assure people that donating is entirely optional.
“If people don’t necessarily want to or they are really really scared, we let them know they don’t absolutely have to do it. Obviously, it is a good thing to do, but we don’t want to pressure people,” Swenson said.
About an hour into the four-hour event, she estimated that the turnout would be good.
“It’s important for people to donate. It’s actually really healthy for you,” Swenson said. “It’s an oil change for your body – a way to get rid of the old and create new.”
She said it is also beneficial to the donor’s heart, not to mention the patient the blood goes to at the hospital.
Because ARUP is a Utah based company and the largest provider to hospitals in the greater Salt Lake City area, blood donated to them remains local.