But Don’t We Already Bleed Cardinal Red?

Well you probably saw it last Friday afternoon, but you also probably walked on by it. The Bloodmobile was in White Plaza, for a whole four hours this time. All Stanford students are here to make the world a better place. I know this because the admission department told me so. So everyone should mark their calendars and clear their schedules to do a relatively painless procedure that will actually save someone’s life, right?

After all, moral superiority aside, donating blood is a pretty fun time. You get to see your own fluids. You get all the free ice cream and cookies you want for 15 minutes. You get to wear a righteous bandage for the rest of the day (“Why yes ladies, I did donate blood today.”), and perhaps most important of all, you save some cash that evening by lowering the denominator of the BAC formula.

What’s more, even though the Stanford Blood Center says that only 39 percent of people are eligible to donate, I’m pretty sure that 39 percent includes most of Stanford. After all, Stanford runs low on steroid users, heroin users, drug prostitutes, recently tattooed folk, people who have spent more than three days in jail in the past year, carriers of Creutzfeld-Jakob disease and sexually active gay men (Wait, really? Still? Come on, FDA. Get with the program.).

So what then would be the holdup, since apparently five percent of you? For some of you, it’s still the unease around needles. I suggest closing your eyes and not looking at your arm. For the rest of you it’s “Well I have section at 3, and this is taking too long.” That’s right. At Stanford, we are too busy to save lives. Now admittedly, the BloodMobile is kind of a logistical nightmare. There has to be a more efficient way to donate blood that doesn’t require a two hour time commitment or making the trip out to a place in the medical center that most people can’t find. We need a Stanford Blood Center iPhone app, or collaboration with the Econ department about getting the commodity of blood at market efficiency.

But isn’t that kind of the point? In a place that’s all about innovation, up-to-date technology, and helping people, the procedure for donating blood doesn’t seem to have changed since 1977 because no one has cared enough to overhaul it. It is in fact quite sad that just like taking public transportation, Stanfordians will only donate blood when it’s on their schedule, but the fact that we already know how to make parties fit into our schedule first with the brilliantly-named FountainHop is probably sadder.

Assuage my guilt and schedule a donation. They now give out rewards too: http://bloodcenter.stanford.edu/donate/

  • Brooke Wilson

    Thanks for writing this article, Peter! I work at the Blood Center and wanted to point out a couple of things.

    The national average of eligible people who donate blood is, indeed 5%. But in the Bay Area, it’s actually only 3%. You mentioned several reasons for deferral in your article, but left out one of the biggest: travel to a Malarial region. If you have traveled to India or certain parts of Mexico, China, Costa Rica, and the Philippines, you will be deferred from donating for one year from your return. For more information, call (650) 725-9968 or check our Web site: http://bloodcenter.stanford.edu/donate/EligibilityMedHisDeferral.html

    You’re right, the process of donating blood hasn’t changed very much in the last 30 years. It may have even gotten slightly longer since the 70s, as FDA increases the number of screening questions donors must answer. That’s an effort to make the blood supply safer, so not a great place to cut back. The donation process itself lasts 6-10 minutes, and the speed depends on blood pressure, accuracy of needle placement, and… gravity. If anyone can figure out how to speed those things up, it’s probably one of you smart Stanford students—so let us know! We aim to keep donors’ time commitment at one hour. Making an appointment helps a lot. Appointments: https://www.sbcdonor.org/index.cfm

    FInally, I just wanted to share our two very convenient locations near campus:

    3373 Hillview Avenue, Palo Alto (there’s a Marguerite stop right outside the door!): goo.gl/mwEF

    780 Welch Road, Suite 100, Palo Alto (across from Packard Hospital): goo.gl/YXFq

    Thanks again for spreading the word!

    Brooke WIlson
    Communications Manager | Stanford Blood Center