Two weeks after an automobile accident claimed the lives of four students and injured five others, approximately 120 students and community members spent part of their Sunday at a blood drive in honor of the victims.
Red Cross volunteers collected 90 units of blood in the drive, which the Yale Athletics Department organized. It was held as two students injured in the Jan. 17 accident remain hospitalized.
Brett Smith ’06 was in critical condition in the Norwalk Hospital Intensive Care Unit, a hospital official said Sunday night.
Eric Wenzel ’03 remained hospitalized Sunday. His family asked that hospital officials not release information about his condition, a Bridgeport Hospital official said.
The blood drive — held in the John J. Lee Amphitheater — was the most recent of several projects to support the accident victims. Students in Ezra Stiles College are collecting donations to help Smith’s family with medical and travel costs. Families of each of the victims have set up memorial funds in the students’ honor, and the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, to which all the victims belonged, is planning a memorial as well.
Red Cross officials said the drive helped the state’s current blood shortage. But knowing that some of the accident victims required blood transfusions, many students said they had a more personal reason for donating blood.
“Giving blood is always a more than worthy cause, but there’s added incentive when it hits closer to home,” said Lindsay Sabel ’03, a volunteer and blood donor.
Lynn Townshend, part of the Red Cross staff for the event, said most of the donors were Yale students, particularly athletes, but other people from the New Haven area donated as well.
“It’s nice to see people from the community turning out to support Yale as an integral part of New Haven,” Townshend said.
Student athletes first formulated the idea for the drive, then approached the Athletics Department for help in working with the Red Cross to organize it, Senior Associate Director of Athletics Colleen Lim said. Townshend said the effort was coordinated unusually quickly, within a week of Yale officials contacting the Red Cross.
Some potential donors could not donate Sunday because of athletic commitments, low iron levels, or travel restrictions. To accommodate more donors, the Red Cross will hold another blood drive Feb. 10-13 in Dwight Hall.
The upcoming blood drives will also be held in remembrance of the accident victims.
“This is an excellent vehicle to start with some of the healing,” said Susan Lamour, a Red Cross worker who managed accounts and logistics for the blood drive.
Athletics Senior Administrative Assistant Carol Cofrancesco, who handled appointments for Sunday’s drive, said administrators are considering holding another blood drive later in the spring.
“Student athletes who are competing at the moment or are in practices aren’t allowed to donate blood at this time, so we’re contemplating a drive in April for the same purpose,” Cofrancesco said.
Lamour said Connecticut is experiencing a “blood emergency.” She said that last Friday, for instance, the Red Cross had less than a half-day’s supply of O-positive and O-negative blood. The Red Cross usually seeks to keep three days’ worth of blood ready for use.
“If there’s another major accident, what’s going to happen?” Townshend said. “Blood has to be ready on the shelf to go out. It’s a constant need.”
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