Blood Drive Shows Bearcat Spirit


Jerry Sheng ’20

Olivia King ’19 supports Maggie Ottenbreit ’20 as she donates blood at the drive.

Amidst a blood shortage in Connecticut, community members were so eager to donate that a waitlist had to be created.
St. Luke’s Society hosted their annual Red Cross Blood Drive in Fowle Gym on Monday, April 15th from 1:45 to 7:00 p.m.
Across the United States, someone needs a blood donation every two seconds, and one pint of blood, the equivalent of a single donation, is enough to save up to three lives. Connecticut is currently undergoing a blood shortage crisis. Fewer than 1,350 blood drives were hosted in the winter of 2018 – down from 2017, partially because of the government shutdown. The American Red Cross tries to organize more than 12 blood drives every day in Connecticut.
During the Chapel slots on April 8 and 11, Mrs. Caroline Kenny-Burchfield, faculty advisor to St. Luke’s, explained that her children, Caleigh Burchfield ’18 and Will Burchfield ’14, have both been recipients of donor blood. Mrs. Burchfield said, “My children owe their lives to [blood donations], so for me, it’s first-hand experience of how important a blood drive is.”
In order to meet the eligibility for whole-blood donation, candidates had to meet certain height-to-weight ratios and other criteria. They could not have seasonal allergies or a cold. This year, fewer donors were deemed ineligible than in past years. Alisa Ghura ’19, co-head of St. Luke’s, said, “We really wanted to make sure that people coming in to donate actually got to donate, so we spent a lot of time educating them about eligibility. [This year], we had a very low deferral rate. Usually, we have tons of people who get turned away because of low iron and other things like that.”
Leading up to the blood drive, St. Luke’s board members met with Dining Hall staff and coordinated with a point person from the Red Cross to identify iron-rich food being served in the Dining Hall. St. Luke’s also organized student volunteers to help staff registration tables prior to the event, talk to donors as their blood was being drawn, and escort them to refreshment tables after donation.
This year, 89 students, faculty, and other community members signed up to give. At the drive, some donors waited for more than two hours, due to the large turnout. Burchfield said, “People give for no other reason than that they can, and there’s nothing more gratifying than witnessing that. It’s just a pure act of giving.”
On Wednesday, April 17, another blood drive was hosted at Noble Horizons, a local retirement community in Salisbury, from 1:00-6:00 p.m. St. Luke’s provided transportation to and from Noble Horizons for interested students who did not have the chance to donate on Monday.
The blood drive came at a time when blood is scarce, so these donations will have a significant impact on the lives of people in need.