BSM blood drive cancelled due to COVID-19 outbreak

Knight Errant File Photos
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, students over the age of 16 were given the opportunity to donate blood at BSM.

Alana Kabaka, Staff Writer

With the closing of school not only have sports and extracurricular activities been postponed or cancelled, but so has the BSM Blood Drive sponsored by the National Honor Society. This marks the 2019-2020 school year as the first time in at least 20 years that BSM has not been able to host a blood drive. 

At the beginning of the year, there was a blood drive planned for November 13 and another for March 18. The fall  drive was cancelled due to scheduling complications and now the spring blood drive has been canceled because of COVID-19 and the fact that school has been canceled the rest of the school year. “I’m not sure how that [November] day got double booked, because we had the blood drive on the calendar six months before that, so to my mind the blood drive should have taken precedence, & a different date for the other event should have been found.  Why we were forced to cancel the blood drive instead is still something I don’t understand.  It was the first time in my 20 years at BSM that we did not have a fall blood drive…. Obviously, this spring we ended up canceling the blood drive as well,” Mr. Rob Epler, the NHS advisor and  blood drive coordinator, said. 

It was the first time in my 20 years at BSM that we did not have a fall blood drive…. Obviously, this spring we ended up canceling the blood drive as well.”

— Rob Epler

In past years, the BSM blood drive has collected at minimum about 100 units of blood each year, with the spring drive being a bit more successful.  In the March 2019 drive, Epler reports that BSM collected 48 units of whole blood and 6 double-red cell donations. “I’d say on average we have about 50 successfully donated units per drive.  A bit more if you count the double-red donors twice, which is how Memorial Blood Centers do their statistics,” Epler said. 

BSM coordinates their blood drives with Memorial Blood Centers of Minnesota. They help with advertising and set up everything needed to run the drive. “Unlike the Red Cross, which takes their blood donations all over, as needed, Memorial Blood Centers specifically keeps their blood donations within the state of Minnesota.  Some of the blood is used for research, but most of it goes directly to patients in medical need, through hospitals, clinics, etc,” Epler said.

No one is sure how, why, or when NHS started doing blood drives. “I can’t say what the original philosophy was, but we’ve continued hosting blood drives because NHS has service as one of its main components and  donating blood is an important & necessary way to serve… Plus, studies show that people who start donating blood when they’re teenagers are much more likely to continue to donate blood when they’re adults.  Like most habits, if people start when they’re young, they’re likely to continue. And donating blood is a good habit.” Epler said.

The biggest downside to the cancellation of the NHS Blood Drive is that people who are in need of blood are not getting donations from the BSM community. “It’s always rewarding to know that you’re helping people, and of course blood donations can literally save lives–it’s hard to beat that” Elper said.

If you would like to donate blood outside of school please visit the Memorial Blood Center or Red Cross to find a location nearby!