At UNO’s Blood Center, giving back doesn’t have to be scary.

Emma Seely, Managing Editor

Located right on UNO’s campus, The Blood Center offers students the opportunity to save lives in between classes. Situated in the Oliver St. Pe’ Center, next to the engineering building, this outpost of the Blood Center network helps to supply blood, red cells and plasma to hospitals across South Louisiana and Southern Mississippi. As Halloween approaches, now is the perfect time for students to give back to their community here and get a spooky surprise in return. 


“We’ve been working with The Mortuary and Scott Island [Scream Park] now for about, I want to say over 15 years,” says Blood Center Public Relations Manager Paul Adams. As Adams explains, students who donate blood are rewarded with a Halloween themed T-shirt and an express entrance ticket to The Mortuary, which allows the blood donor to also bring three additional ticket holders into the express line. Other New Orleans donation centers offer similar deals with Scout Island.  


According to Adams, these relationships with The Mortuary and Scout Island came from a mutual understanding of the good that can be done through some good-natured scares. “They reached out to us for the partnership, and it’s been one of the most exceptional relationships we’ve had,” Adams says. “We collect 1,000 units of blood every year, specifically from our partnership with the Mortuary and now Scout Island.”


But Adams doesn’t believe that it is only these incentives that convince people to give, although they may play a part. Instead, he believes that people in the community, especially at UNO, want to give back.  “I think people give blood out of the kindness of their heart,” he said. “But having special little bonuses, like a cool T-shirt or a ticket to The Mortuary certainly makes for a bonus.”


UNO’s location offers an opportunity to give back at a place that is an integral part of The Blood Center’s efforts to cover the New Orleans area. “[The UNO Center] was probably our first donor center that we’ve opened in New Orleans proper since Hurricane Katrina,” Adams explains. “And so it really was important for us to come back into New Orleans, and when the opportunity popped up to open a donor center in UNO it made total sense.”


It made sense because a large portion of blood donation, 30 % according to Adams, comes from high school and college-aged students. However, if UNO students are contributing to The Blood Center, it isn’t always at UNO’s location.    


“The funny thing is students aren’t showing up at the UNO donor center nearly as much as the community, which is surprising because it is so convenient to just walk from class and pop in,” Adams says. “So hopefully that changes. Hopefully, student involvement does increase.”


One way to increase student donation at UNO beyond simply offering fun incentives is to spread knowledge about the logistics of blood donation, in an effort to demystify the act of donating. According to Adams, the process is simple, standard and finished in about an hour. 


“The donation process takes about 45 minutes to an hour,” he says. “That process means you’re coming in; you’re getting registered; you’re going to have a quick survey of your history, if you’re taking any medications or anything like that; then you’re going to sit down with a consultant. We’re going to take your temperature; we’re going to go through the survey with you; we’re going to test your iron. That takes about 10 minutes, and then you’re actually going to sit down on the bed and do your blood donation. The blood donation usually takes between five and 15 minutes tops.”


Not only is the donation process quick and easy, it can also be side-effect free, so long as students take simple precautions before and after the donation. 


“Anybody who’s interested in donating blood, I would suggest to them first of all [to] have a glass of water, eat a nice salty snack,” Adams says. “It’s always good to have a good meal before you’re donating, and after. Once you’re done, you’re going to eat some juice and cookies. And we’re always going to suggest that you go and you have another good meal. That evening, you’re probably going to get the best sleep of your life. It’s very relaxing.”


Whether students are donating blood to get a good nap, or to give themselves nightmares at The Mortuary or Scout Island, the act of donating blood can truly make a difference to multiple people in need. 


“It’s simple, relatively painless, and once you’re done, you can feel good knowing that you’re probably going to end up saving about three lives,” Adams says “The reason we say three lives is because when we take your blood back to our laboratories, it’s separated into platelets, plasma, and red cells, and those three components can be given to three separate individuals. Blood is one of the few medications that hospitals use on a daily basis that cannot be manufactured. It takes blood donors in our community to make a difference.”


But if students are still afraid to try out donating blood for the first time, Adams believes that UNO’s center is the perfect location for them, too. The entire staff knows how scary it can be, and wants to make students feel at ease. 


“[Donors] are nervous on that first donation,” he says “We expect that our team, especially at UNO, is very well trained, knowing that [for] most of the people that are coming in, it’s their first or second time doing it. So they try to be a little bit more friendly.”