Red Cross Blood Drive Hosted at Point Loma Nazarene University

Photo credit to Victoria Mascari. Photo of the blood drive, located in the ARC, with tables for donors to lie on on the left and waiting participants on the right.

The California Nursing Student Association at Point Loma Nazarene University (CNSA-PL) and PLNU’s Wellness Center partnered with the Red Cross on Oct. 6 to host a blood drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The blood drive took place at PLNU’s Activities & Recreation Center (ARC), and 40 participants were scheduled to donate blood, according to Kendall Aardema, secretary on the CNSA-PL board of directors. There were also a few walk-in participants.

“We’ve had some staff members as well come in to donate, so it’s not restricted to only students,” Aardema said.

Along with a few Red Cross workers, seven CNSA-PL board members and four Kinesiology Society students volunteered to work at the blood drive, according to Kaitlyn Ecklund, fourth-year nursing major and community health director on the CNSA-PL board.

According to Aardema, Ecklund facilitated the blood drive.

“Part of our mission as CNSA is to engage with the San Diego community and connect the students and the community together,” Ecklund said. “[The blood drive’s] kind of something that we’re trying to do at least once a year.”

Aardema, who has donated blood before, described the donation process as “a pretty smooth procedure.”

First, a participant’s blood pressure was taken, followed by a finger stick blood test. These procedures assured that the patient was eligible to give blood, according to Aardema. Next, participants completed a questionnaire. Afterward, the patient went to a table where the blood drawing process began.

Aardema said that the donation process took around one hour per participant.

According to the American Red Cross’s webpage, patients who receive blood transfusions from donors are “in a wide range of circumstances, including serious injuries (such as in a car crash) surgeries, childbirth, anemia, blood disorders, cancer treatments and many others.”

At first, the blood drive was directed toward CNSA-PL students, according to Aardema. Eventually, with the help of the Wellness Center, the event was offered to the larger PLNU population.

Nursing students were encouraged to donate blood; according to a schoolwide email from the Wellness Center, these students would receive four cord points for donating blood. If a student earns enough cord points, they can receive a special graduation cord, according to Aardema.

“For CNSA, our first time having the blood drive was last year,” Ecklund said. “Last year, our blood drive was held at Liberty Station, so this is CNSA’s first time hosting it on campus and partnering with the PLNU Wellness Center.” 

However, Ecklund said that other PLNU groups apart from CNSA-PL had hosted blood drives in the past.

Second-year nursing major Ezri Potter, though not a part of the CNSA-PL, donated blood at the drive. 

“It doesn’t take up that much time or effort, but like, you’re helping [save] lives,” Potter said. “I think it’s a really important thing to do.”

Potter said this was her first time donating blood and that she felt no side effects. 

An article from Medical News Today said that although donating blood is typically safe, sometimes donors can feel minimal, temporary side-effects such as “dizziness,” “feeling faint” and “lightheadedness.” In very rare cases, “severe adverse effect[s]” can occur.

“A way that we ensure that all students don’t pass out, get dizzy, faint or have any side effects is that after the donation they sit for about 15 minutes and we give them snacks, juice, anything to kind of help if they are feeling dizzy or faint,” Aardema said. “Generally, it’s a pretty safe thing to do.”

Ecklund said that participant donors were encouraged to fulfill eligibility requirements, like eating a full meal and being hydrated prior to donating, to minimize possible side effects.

“And it’s true, some people do feel lightheaded afterward,” Ecklund said. “But the Red Cross is well equipped to handle any of that.”

Aardema talked about the purpose of the blood drive, particularly how it related to nursing students.

“I think as nursing students it can be easy to kind of fall in a rut of just doing things to help you as a nurse,” Aardema said. “So this is a really cool way for us to still be involved in health care but in a way that benefits other people and that benefits the community.”

Ecklund hopes all PLNU students will have the chance to participate in giving blood.

“It’s super cool that we’re able to host a blood drive on our campus, and I think that it’s a really cool opportunity to be able to give back in this way,” Ecklund said. “I would really encourage people, if they’re able and willing to donate, to come out the next time we host a blood drive and to keep an eye out for opportunities like this because it really does make a difference.”