The Cameron University Department of Military Science hosted the ROTC blood drive with the Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) on April 22, at Burch Hall.
Captain Elizabeth Miller of the United States Army is an Executive Officer/Assistant Professor of Military Science for the ROTC department. According to Miller, the department hosts a blood drive as one of their community service outreach programs once a semester.
Miller said that as a nurse she worked at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Oklahoma City for about six years during which time she worked the hematology/ oncology, medical/surgical floor and in the bone marrow transplant unit.
“I can’t even express how much the blood, platelets and plasma — all of those products [have] impacted the kiddos’ lives and even our lives — to just be the ones to help facilitate and give those units,” she said. “For a lot of kiddoes, it’s a life source; without it, they couldn’t survive.”
Mary Spannagel is the Senior Blood Program Consultant for OBI in Lawton. She said she has taken on the responsibility of ensuring that there is enough blood for patients who need it in area hospitals.
“We are the sole provider of blood to all of the Lawton hospitals as well as the Indian hospital,” she said. “Anybody who needs blood receives it from donors who volunteer at the Oklahoma Blood Institute.”
According to Spannagel, the demand for blood donors is great.
“The need for blood is huge; it takes 800 units everyday to have enough to service the hospitals that we service,” she said. “The Oklahoma Blood Institute has about 140 facilities in Oklahoma that we actually supply blood to, so we are heavily dependent on Oklahomans to make sure that we have enough.”
Spannagel said that at one time or another, everyone knows someone whose life depended on having blood given by a blood donor.
“We all know somebody that has had cancer, somebody that’s been involved in an accident or a soldier down range that needs plasma. Those are all needs that are met thanks to our volunteer blood donors.”
She said hesitant people are more likely to donate when there is a face associated with the need and there is a face for this blood drive. Madison Hunt is a local girl whose life depends on blood donors every day.
“There is a young lady in town named Maddie Hunt who is eight years old and a second grader at Hugh Bish Elementary; she is really smart, she loves athletics, and today she is going through her second challenge with leukemia.”
According to Spannagel, even though life is hectic, making time to donate blood is important to the community.
“We all get up everyday and we think — wow, you know, I’ve got things to do; I always ask people — have you thought about people like Maddie — she is in the hospital now and she’s already had to have blood and platelets; she is depending on those of us who are blood donors to donate,” she said. “A lot of people say they are afraid of needles — well, I always think, you know what, if you were Maddie and you were getting stuck as many times as she has just to fight to save her very own life, isn’t it worth it to you to donate?”
Spannagel said there are several requirements to be eligible as a donor and each donor must pass a health screen before donating.
“You must be 16-years-old to donate blood. If you are 16, you must also have a permission slip signed by your parents,” she said. “Students at Cameron who are 17 must weigh at least 125 pounds; anybody 18 or older must weigh 110 pounds or more and everyone must have an ID.”
“First, the donor answers a series of questions to make sure he or she is healthy,” she said. “We will take blood pressure, pulse, and temperature; check iron count to make sure that the iron level is okay. It’s a great mini-physical if you haven’t been to the doctor in awhile and it’s a great way to make sure that your vital signs are okay, so it can be life saving for you as well if a problem with your health is detected.”
According to Spannagel, some general misconceptions often keep blood donors away.
“You know, people say, ‘Golly gee, I’m a diabetic so I can’t donate.’ Not true,” she said. “As long as your diabetes is in control and your sugar is okay, you can donate — as well as anybody who has had a flu shot is fine and can donate,” she said. “Even if you have had a tattoo in the last month or so — if it was in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas or in San Diego County in California, as long as you know the name of the facility where you got that tattoo and what month you got that tattoo.
Spannagel said that blood donation is not only simple, it is a great community service.
“It doesn’t cost anything but a little time and you will save somebody’s life.”