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Lining Up to 'Give Life'

All of the trappings of a typical blood drive were there–adults sitting at tables like kindergarteners eating animal crackers and drinking fruit juice, stacks of paperwork to fill out, shivers at the sight of the needles–but Wednesday’s Red Cross blood drive in Shad Hall had a different feeling to it. There was more urgency, a stronger desire to help.

“It’s a way to help out after feeling helpless for so long,” said David Hall (NE).

That sentiment was definitely shared among the 135 people who came to give blood. There was so much supply that all of the time slots were filled in advance, compared with two-thirds of the slots during typical HBS blood drives.

The blood drive, sponsored by the HBS chapter of the Armed Forces Alumni Association (AFAA), had been scheduled prior to the events of September 11th, but its importance took on new meaning. The initial outpouring of support shortly after the tragedies rapidly filled the need, and the Red Cross has been attempting to manage the supply ever since–balancing the desire to give with the reality that donated blood has a shelf life of only 42 days.

As a result, several donor centers have been temporarily closed so that donations can be received from what the Red Cross calls “long-time sponsors” such as HBS. Even at these events, not everyone can give. On Wednesday volunteers were ready for those who came without an appointment. They had a form to fill out that would place the person in the Red Cross’ database of potential givers. The Red Cross is using this tragedy to expand that database for the future.

The AFAA organizer of the event, Brendon Dibella (OD), was happy about the outcome. “Although we were sad to have to turn away so many walk-ins, it was fantastic too see so many people donating–especially first time donors whom we sincerely hope will become regulars for our future drives. We are working with the Red Cross to increase future capacity.”

Dibella also said the AFAA was creating an email list for faculty and staff who wish to be notified about future drives. Anyone interested in adding their name can contact him at bdibella@mba2002.hbs.edu.

Out of the 135 donors, there were 98 usable samples. The target was 100 units. This compares with 125 donors and 83 usable samples at last fall’s drive.

The blood drive, however, was as helpful for many of the donors. Thi Kuu (NE) summed it up. “For people who lived in New York City before and had friends who were affected, we needed our own way to help,” she said.

October 15, 2001
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