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Sunday July 25th

Biology class helps recruit platelet donors for Blood Donation Center

Tommy Bancroft (left), a long snapper on UNC-CH's football team, donates platelets and talks with Emma Bozek (right), a midfielder and forward on the field hockey team. Bozek is one of five students who organized the event.
Buy Photos Tommy Bancroft (left), a long snapper on UNC-CH's football team, donates platelets and talks with Emma Bozek (right), a midfielder and forward on the field hockey team. Bozek is one of five students who organized the event.

UNC football player Nick Weiler and a few of his teammates stopped by the UNC Medical Center to donate a vital resource to patients at UNC Hospitals.

The Blood Donation Center has been working in collaboration with students in Biology 294H, a class that teaches students about the science of blood and the organizational aspects of blood drives.

“We learn about the science of blood donation, as well as how we store blood here in the blood bank,"  said Dr. Alexis Peedin, one of the instructors for the course. 

Junior Rachel Dango is taking Peedin’s class and has been working to convince people that platelet donation is safe.

“Our project is to show a bunch of UNC athletes donating, to show that the process is safe,” she said. “If they can donate, we can donate.”

Dango said the center isn’t doing any platelet drives right now, but always needs more donations.

“It’s open year-round and they’re always looking for donations,” she said. “If you bring your friend to donate, you get free movie tickets.”

Peedin said the class has been focusing on getting people to donate platelets and a big part of that is putting a few misconceptions to rest. She said platelet donation is a whole other ballgame — one that takes a lot longer, but has significantly reduced side-effects.

“It takes anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half, because we are only taking platelets, and returning the rest to you,” she said. “That makes a big difference in how our donors feel walking out the door.”

Peedin said she loves to see athletes in particular donating platelets, because it shows that it’s a much less strenuous process.

“Some of my students will come in and donate before an exam, or go to the gym shortly after donating,” she said. “Even though it does take longer, people really do feel physically better after donating platelets than after donating whole-blood.”

Bridgit Schmidt, donor recruiter for the Blood Donation Center, said demand for platelets has been on the rise.

“We have a strong presence on campus,” she said. “Even if we’re only asking one donor at a time, we are just constantly on campus handing out the information and having the conversation with any student who will listen.”

Schmidt said she’s hopeful that clearing up the difference between platelet donation and regular blood donation will convince more people to come out and donate.

“Most people just need to be invited, then they’re willing to help,” she said.

university@dailytarheel.com

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