One-tenth of your blood can save three lives

In 15 minutes, you could help save someone’s life. That is how long it takes to donate one pint of blood, a resource that is replaceable for the donor but essential for a patient’s life. 

With Grady Hospital, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and others right next door, blood will always be a needed resource in Atlanta. 

As an essential fixture within the city, Georgia State makes it easy for students to donate. Beginning drives in the early 2000s, Georgia State has partnered with the American Red Cross and LifeSouth Community Blood Center to bring blood drives to the Downtown and Perimeter campuses. 

Byron Jones, interim director of civic engagement, helps manage the drives and has donated blood upwards of eight times. 

According to Jones, 95% of drives meet the blood donation goals. Each goal varies depending on the drive, and Jones recalls the Homecoming 2018 drive as record-breaking, with 210 pints donated.

Freshman Dalena Yonas donated blood for the first time this month at Clarkston’s blood drive. Yonas sat on a cot with a clear bag attached to her arm while she chatted with friends and read a book. 

Yonas’ mother became sick last November, and “she needed a lot of blood,” which inspired her to donate.

“You never know — you could be the next person that needs blood, and nobody’s there to give it to you,” Yonas said. “It’s nothing; you get this stuff, it revives you, and it keeps coming back. I think I’m going to keep coming back as much as possible because, you know, everybody needs blood and [there are] a lot of sick people.”

Civic Engagement Advisor JP Peters coordinates the on-campus blood drives and believes in the importance of this initiative.

“This is a great gateway to giving back in service,” Peters said. “LifeSouth keeps all of their blood here … they stay local to Atlanta, and we know there’s always going to be a high need [for blood] in Atlanta.”

The donation process is relatively simple: Upon arrival, the donor answers a list of questions, mainly focused on their health, medications and recent travels. After the questionnaire is completed, the donor checks their blood pressure, temperature and the iron in their blood. Once cleared, the donor sits on a reclined chair to donate one pint of blood, which generally takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete. 

Afterward, students are given their snacks, free t-shirts and a sense of accomplishment. 

Sophomore Grace Kirkwood has donated blood five times before the Clarkston drive. Kirkwood learned about the drive through an engagement fair on campus. On a whim, she decided to donate.

The donation process doesn’t daunt Kirkwood. In fact, she enjoys it.

“I don’t mind blood at all,” Kirkwood said. “I also enjoy the process somewhat, you just sit there, chill for a few minutes, and it goes to a good cause. It’s sort of relaxing. That sounds weird because we’re talking about donating blood, but I guess it’s more that I don’t mind it, and [the patients] need it.” 

Kirkwood is right: Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, according to the American Red Cross

Jones said that he donates blood to aid servicemen and women, such as police and firefighters, who may “get hurt in the line of duty.”

“Also, for me, [donating is] important because we never know when a natural disaster is going to happen,” Jones added. “Personally, I feel as though it’s important because we never know when you as an individual will be in some form of an accident where you would need a blood transfusion or for an individual to donate blood to save your life.”

Blood drives aren’t Georgia State’s only health initiative. 

Wellness Program Coordinator Ryan Smith manages Wellness on Wheels across all campuses. 

Wellness on Wheels visits one campus a week and offers various health screenings for students, faculty and staff. These events provide a variety of resources, such as blood pressure checks, weigh-ins and BMI calculations. 

Smith is a registered dietitian, and he offers presentations on health in day-to-day life. 

“[Survey] responses seem to indicate that people are very interested in finding ways to incorporate more healthy foods into their diet,” Smith said. “A lot of people are interested in things like meal prep and healthy eating on the go. I think especially in the downtown area, there are a lot of great restaurants nearby, but people [need help] to figure out how to pick the healthier options from what’s available.”

Smith added that stress management was another major topic of interest. He encourages the Georgia State community to take advantage of these opportunities.

“When you invest in your health, you’re investing in yourself,” Smith said with a laugh. “These are things that not only make you, of course, live longer and be healthier, but they make you feel better from day-to-day. For students, if you’re less stressed and you’re taking care of yourself … you’ll probably perform better in your class. You may have better relationships, and you may just be in a better mood. So, I think it affects literally everyone, no matter what stage of life they’re at.”

Blood drives are offered twice each semester on the Perimeter campuses, and there are seven donation opportunities on the Downtown campus.

Yonas offers words of encouragement for first-time donors.

“Relax, because it’s my first time too,” Yonas said. “I believe in you. Don’t be selfish with your blood, and have fun.”