“No substitute:” A look inside the work of the Red Cross

By Sanchali Singh

Michael Godwin, team supervisor of the American Red Cross Club at the University of Maryland’s blood drive on Oct. 25, said human blood is important because “there is no substitute for it.”

“They’ve never come up with a substitute for human blood,” Godwin said. “Human blood is necessary in today’s world because of accidents, traumatic diseases, car accidents, and soldiers in the battlefield lose massive amounts of blood, so we have to replace that in order to keep them alive.”

Approximately 36,000 units of blood are needed every day in the United States, and someone needs blood every two seconds, according to the Red Cross website.

Godwin said the Red Cross works all over the country to help people, especially those who need blood or are in disaster situations.

“Anytime there is a disaster, the Red Cross sends units of blood. During the Las Vegas shooting, they requested blood and we sent it out,” Godwin said.

He said so many people donate blood that when House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot in June 2017, the Red Cross already had blood on its way to help.

The Red Cross holds many blood drives on campus, working closely with the University of Maryland Red Cross Club and sororities and fraternities.

The organization works to make sure they keep donated blood at its highest integrity. They make sure the venue’s location fits all their requirements. This includes making sure heating and air conditioning works, everything is clean, and that there are no bug infestations.

Godwin said he almost supervised a blood drive at a venue that had a black fly infestation.

“You’re on the bed with these gnats buzzing around you,” he said. “We can’t work like that because we have to maintain the integrity of the blood, and if you’ve got a person with blood coming out, you don’t want flies flying around it.”

The Red Cross draws approximately 470 mL or a pint of blood from one donor at a time. Godwin said they have to be very careful about who they draw blood from because they draw the same amount of blood from everyone, no matter the size of the person.

He said they screen for people who are underweight because they could faint if too much blood is drawn.

The workers are trained specifically to look out for people who might be at risk of fainting. The Red Cross has a multi-step process when someone donates blood. The donor is first registered with the organization and then given a mini-physical to make sure they are healthy before they actually donate.

“It’s very rigorous,” Godwin said.

Godwin has worked for the Red Cross for two years. He previously worked for the military for 24 years as a lab technician in forensics. He said he did similar work for the Air Force during the Desert Storm conflict.

Volunteers from the Red Cross Club worked the event to schedule donors.

Stephen Caponetti, a freshman chemical engineer, said he did a lot of blood drives in high school and wanted to help.

“A lot of people need blood, and I think it’s really cool how one unit of blood can save two to three lives,” he said.








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