The American Red Cross hosts many blood drives throughout the Chicago and northern Illinois area every week. Recently, a drive was hosted at the DePaul’s Ray Meyer Fitness Center and brought out students and Lincoln Park community members alike. Some donors, like DePaul junior Sophia, were giving blood for the first time. Others, like Ri who lives down the block, give regularly.
Sophia signed up to give blood last minute when her friend Desirae, who donates regularly, invited her to tag along. Sophia went in confidently and came out feeling good and excited to donate again.
Giving blood across the room from Sophia was Ri. Despite her fear of needles, Ri began giving blood when she turned 18. She remembers her father needed surgery to remove part of his small intestine when she was a child, and that procedure required a blood transfusion. After he recovered from surgery he began giving blood, always making sure to bring his daughter Ri along in hopes of teaching her the importance of giving back. Clearly, the lesson stuck because Ri gives blood every ten weeks.
Checking everyone in before they gave blood was volunteer Dennis Strode. Dennis began volunteering at blood drives last year after he spent five years battling lymphoma and needed multiple blood transfusions. To give back, Dennis travels all around the Chicago area from Orland Park to help out at different blood drives.
Donating blood is an easy way to make a big difference to someone else. It’s something many people can spare, yet there often isn’t enough to go around for all the people who need blood. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. By donating regularly, your blood will help ensure that there is enough on the shelf when it’s needed. Just one donation can save up to three lives. To donate, all you have to do is be at least 16 years old or 17 with parental consent, weigh at least 110 lbs and be in good general health. Everyone goes through a mini-physical and medical history before the donation, and are given lots of snacks, water and juice afterwards. The entire process takes about one hour.
The Red Cross blood drives at the Ray are held in a small room in a corner yet, the drives always fill up with lots of donors wanting to give back. It is because of these donors and volunteers giving up their time to roll up a sleeve that patients are able to receive lifesaving blood transfusions.
If you’re interested in finding an upcoming blood drive near you or learning more about how to host a blood drive, visit www.redcrossblood.org
Written by Hannah Nicholson, Communications & Marketing intern for the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois