In response to the American Red Cross of Connecticut’s declaration of a blood emergency, undergraduates have mobilized to sign up fellow students and faculty for a Feb. 9-12 Dwight Hall blood drive that is expected to be one of the University’s largest efforts of its kind in recent years.
In response to the all-time low in Connecticut’s blood supply, members of Alpha Phi Omega — Yale’s coeducational service fraternity — and other students have advertised the blood drive on campus and have set up booths outside their residential college dining halls to encourage their fellow students to donate blood.
A variety of factors have contributed to the low blood supply. A cold and snowy winter has kept donors away from clinics and caused an increase in outdoor injuries. This year’s flu epidemic has also made many normal donors ineligible to give blood. While hospitals normally store an eight-day supply of blood, some have been unable to keep even a one-day supply.
Alpha Phi Omega president Jason Van Batavia ’05 said he has been encouraged by the particularly strong response to the blood drive in certain residential colleges.
“In the past two days, we signed up 24 donors in Stiles alone,” Van Batavia said. “But we would like to see at least 40 donors sign up in each college.”
Jenny Zhang ’06, who leads the American Red Cross affiliate at the University, praised Yalies for working well with each other to combat Connecticut’s blood shortage. She cited the cooperation between students in Alpha Phi Omega and members of the wider community.
“There is a dire need for blood in the state right now,” Zhang said. “Just based on urgency, this situation is definitely unique.”
Edward Snyder, director of the blood bank at Yale-New Haven Hospital, said the shortage is especially dangerous for his colleagues because they consistently perform advanced surgery on trauma patients and transplant hearts and livers. Such procedures can require as many as 85 units of blood.
“We’re always living on the edge here,” Snyder said in a press release. “It’s stressful. What can you do?”
Snyder said he is thankful Yale-New Haven Hospital and hospitals across Connecticut have been able to avoid canceling elective surgeries.
While the American Red Cross of Connecticut has 403 units of blood in its bank, compared to 151 last week, its ideal goal is to have at least 2,000 units of blood on supply at any time. Because of blood shortages in other states, Connecticut Red Cross officials have not been able to import fresh blood supplies.
“We are teetering on the edge of disaster,” Richard Cable, who serves as the Medical Director for the American Red Cross, Connecticut Blood Services Region, said in a press release. “The least safe blood supply is no blood supply at all, and we are nearly there.”