Heroes assemble to donate blood at Calvin
When it comes to saving lives, Mary Hollen knows just how far a little blood can go.
“My father had leukemia in his 80s and he got a blood transfusion every two weeks,” she said. “It really kept him alive.”
The ability that donating blood has to save lives, along with her father’s experience with blood donation, were strong motivations for Hollen to help out at the blood donation session at Calvin College on Tuesday.
Students have the opportunity to donate blood from Sept. 25 to 27, from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the library lobby.
“I only talk to heroes [here],” said Hollen. “Everyone who donates blood is a hero. They save a life.”
As an after-care volunteer, Hollen makes sure that blood donors receive the proper care and attention they need after giving blood. A stockpile of water bottles and snacks topped the tables near the blood donor beds.
“We like them to sit, eat and drink for 10-15 minutes,” Hollen said. “We’ll make them eat some crackers and cheese and get them to drink at least half a bottle of water.” Donors are also encouraged to eat a good breakfast and drink lots of water beforehand.
With the capability of blood to save lives being a compelling reason for students, free pizza was an additional incentive for prospective blood donors. For just attempting to donate blood, students received a coupon for free Papa John’s pizza.
Blood type was a further reason that some students had for donating blood.
“I give blood because I’m O negative, and I know that all of O negative blood actually goes to help real people who need it, because trauma victims who come in are given O negative because it’s the universal donor,” said junior Brandon Koster.
“The way I see it, if you can handle giving blood and you are O negative, you have an obligation to give because it’s the most needed and all of it gets used.”
Nate Harkema, a senior at Calvin, was another Calvin student who participated in Michigan Blood’s donation drive on Tuesday.
“I think if I can be helpful, and it doesn’t really hurt, then why not,” said Harkema. “And free pizza isn’t bad either.”
His experience with donating blood was also a motivation for him to donate blood on Tuesday.
“I gave blood a couple of times back in high school,” he said.
But it’s not just Calvin students who gave blood. Faculty, including Larry Molnar, professor of physics and astronomy at Calvin, donated blood as well.
“I usually give each time there is a Calvin blood drive,” said Molnar. “Due to schedule, I did not give today, but I expect to do so tomorrow. I think since I have come to Calvin that my total is about six gallons.”
Molnar’s reasons for donating blood are rooted in a Christian perspective. “I give blood because I see it as Christian service,” he said. “The blood is used to save lives for those in medical need, so it is a way to love one’s neighbor even when you don’t know the neighbor’s name or exact circumstance.”
“Blood in particular is a gift that can only be given in kind,” he continued. “No financial donation can replace it. And since there are many particular reasons that disqualify people from donating, the burden is all the more on those of us who qualify to do so.”
Donald Marsh coordinated the Michigan Blood event at Calvin. As the donor care specialist, Marsh was directly involved with the blood donating process. Michigan Blood comes to Calvin at least three times a year (September, January and April). The turnout for the first event seemed to be off to a good start on Tuesday, according to Marsh.
“So far it’s going really good,” said Marsh while working with senior blood donor Josiah Ringelberg.
In addition to Calvin College, Michigan Blood visits nearly every college and university in the greater Grand Rapids area.
“We go to all the colleges in Kent County,” Marsh said. “Cornerstone, Grand Valley, and all their campuses.”
Students at the blood donating event gave one pint of their blood. While it may seem like a small amount, one pint goes a long way for those in need of blood in the state.
“One pint will save up to three lives,” said Marsh. “And all the blood from Michigan donors stays in Michigan.”