Tanger Hillel Hosts Fall Blood Drive 

BC Students at the Tanger Hillel Blood Drive in September./Tanger Hillel at Brooklyn College

 

By Mary Zakharova 

Reporting assistance by Gabriela Flores

 

Brooklyn College’s Tanger Hillel organized a blood drive with the New York Blood Center on Thursday, Oct. 28, giving students and locals an opportunity to donate. Despite the ongoing pandemic, many donors showed out in an effort to help fellow New Yorkers in need of blood. 

  The blood drive tradition started years ago, when some Brooklyn College students became aware that the United States was facing a blood shortage. They decided to collaborate with the Blood Center and give students on campus a chance to make a difference, according to Yelena Azriyel, the Assistant Director at Tanger Hillel. These original blood drive captains, who made sure donors got everything done before giving blood, started a club called Chai that continues organizing Hillel’s drives today.

Though Hillel started with hosting one event a year, they now host two. Many students, alongside people from beyond campus, come to donate blood – giving Hillel a turnout mixed with regular and newbie blood donors. “Through the drives on campus, there are people who donate for the first time, and that’s how they get introduced to it,” said Azriyel.

There are some requirements donors must follow before donating blood, including having a good meal and not taking certain medications. All the participants need to be at least 16 years old, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds, be healthy, and answer a questionnaire with basic medical information.

This time around, 73 people registered for the blood drive. “Let’s say if all 73 people show up, then we’ll be saving over 200 lives. And that’s amazing,” said Azriyel.

With the help of blood drive captains, Azriyel explained, Hillel was able to promote their event throughout Brooklyn College, inform potential donors of the process, and host last Thursday’s big turnout. Two of those captains were siblings Carrie and Josh Ebbin, who are freshman students who started donating blood at Hillel when their older brother was a Brooklyn College student himself. The twins also joined their mother, a regular blood donor, while she would have her blood drawn at different drives. “My mom has been donating blood for as long as I remember. She was donating blood when I was little,” said Carrie. This made Carrie and her brother realize the importance of donating. “So as soon as we turned 16, […] she brought us to a blood drive. I wasn’t eligible the first time because my iron was low, but I donated soon after, and we’ve been going as much as we can since then,” she said.

Though Josh is usually unable to donate his blood because of his heart-related health issues, he continues trying every year. “Even if you think you’re going to get rejected, it’s always worth it to try. It takes a little bit of time, but it doesn’t matter because you have a chance to save three lives,” Josh said. “It’s really not that much [of a] loss when you have so much to gain.”

Even with COVID-19, New Yorkers are coming to donate blood, according to Felicia Shepherd Brown, a New York Blood Center Donor Specialist. Shepherd Brown thinks that even though some high schools and colleges city-wide hosted limited blood drives because they were closed, there is still no blood shortage. “There were still donors coming out even though we had the pandemic. We were at full capacity with donors,” she said. 

Once a donor’s blood is drawn, their donation is tested to determine its blood type, and for transmissible diseases like HIV, hepatitis, and syphilis. Blood may also be separated into various components, such as red cells, platelets, or plasma, so each donation may help several people.

 

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