September 28, 2020

BY ROB MENDONSA

Conestoga students exceeded all expectations and helped save some lives in the community, as they rolled up their sleeves and gave blood at the first blood clinic held in several years at the rec centre on March 11.rmbloodclinic1WEB

Hosted in partnership with the Student Life department and Canadian Blood Services, organizers of Conestoga’s six-bed blood donor clinic had hoped to collect 54 units of blood, but instead approximately 70 people donated.  Each unit of blood can help three patients. With approximately 70 units collected, Conestoga students potentially helped 210 people within Waterloo Region.

According to Heather Fowler, a Canadian Blood Services community development co-ordinator for southern Ontario, the need for new donors is always high, especially given the aging population. O Rh Negative is a blood type in great need, since it is universally used for all blood types, but is only found in seven per cent of the population.

“Our strategy is to connect with young students so that they get into the habit of giving blood every 56 days (which is the minimum time between donations). We also hold lectures at the college and on March 7, we held a “What’s your type” event, which allowed students to find out their blood type in just a few minutes and with a small prick of the finger,” Fowler said.

This also marks the first time Conestoga College has signed on to be a Partner for Life. This program signs organizations up and helps them set a goal. For Conestoga the goal is 100 donations per year.

The screening process is quite rigorous as can be expected, said Lisa Ruck, also a Canadian Blood Services community development co-ordinator for southern Ontario, who was on hand at the clinic to answer any questions students might have before donating.

“Every time we collect blood we have to do several tests, including testing your blood for iron and HIV. We do these screening processes to make sure your blood is not only safe for our use but also that it is safe for you to donate. If for instance your iron levels were too low than we would not be able to take blood from you,” Ruck said.

The whole process is designed to take only 45 minutes from start to finish and the actual blood donation only takes 5-12 minutes.

One of those on hand to donate was Nicholas Lariviere, a first-year police foundations student, who is not only O Rh Negative, but donates on a regular basis.

“I like doing things that help other people, but you hear so much about charitable organizations that aren’t that reliable and you don’t know where your money is going. With this, I know my donation is going to actually help someone,” Lariviere said.

Organizers of the event, including Ryan Connell, Student Life programmer, who helped bring the clinic to Conestoga, were thrilled by how many students came out to help Blood Services.

“The event, which had a remarkable turnout, definitely exceeded our expectations. We were so blown away that we had so many members of our Conestoga community who were willing to step forward and help save lives. We anticipated having to really do recruitment, but right from the start of the event, we had lineups for participants, which was great to see,” Connell said.  “I look forward to hopefully bringing the clinic back to Conestoga each year, if not every semester. The support from the Conestoga community surpassed my expectations. It shows we are a community that cares.”