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Campus Gives Back in Pints

December 6, 2013

The newest UC campus prides itself on its commitment to community service and helping others. Students, staff members and faculty members spend countless hours working in homeless shelters and food pantries, participating in clothing and toy drives, and much more.

Now, you could say UC Merced is giving back in blood.

In September, the campus community potentially saved the lives of 696 people in the San Joaquin Valley and beyond by donating blood to BloodSource. The campus surpassed its record by registering 302 blood donors and collecting 232 donations, which is a huge accomplishment according to the BloodSource blood center. 

“Our first UC Merced drive at the old Castle Air Force Base in Atwater, and we registered 10 donors and collected 10 donations,” said BloodSource account manager Jaime Suarez. “This was pretty exciting at the time as we knew this drive would only get larger over the years.”

The campus was equally pleased with the turnout for September’s blood drive.

“We had many first-time donors and we had more donors than we had time to accommodate,” said Associate Director for Health Services Greg Spurgeon. “We may have to extend our future drives over two days if we continue to have that much interest.”

On Dec. 9, BloodSource will be back on campus from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with five bloodmobiles parked on Scholars Lane near the Yablokoff-Wallace Dining Center. Participants will receive a $5 Togo’s gift card. This is the second of five blood drives planned for the academic year.

According to Suarez, UC Merced is and will likely continue to be its largest blood drive in Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. UC Davis and California State University, Sacramento, are the largest schools within BloodSource’s 25-county area in Northern California. To put UC Merced’s numbers into perspective, UC Davis has a student enrollment of 33,000 and recently collected 968 donations over two days. Sacramento State collected 1,289 donations in a similar two-day time period.

Suarez said it won’t take UC Merced long to reach those numbers.

“Since 2002, the campus community has contributed 4,227 donations, helping more than 12,600 patients in need since each donation can be separated into three blood components (platelets, plasma and red cells),” Suarez said. “For a relatively young campus, that number is impressive.”

He understands the impact blood donors make firsthand.

“I have twin boys who are now 6 years old and healthy but were born premature weighing 2 ½ pounds each,” Suarez said. “Three weeks after they were born, they received teaspoons of red blood cells from someone we’ll never get to meet. That is the power of a volunteer blood donor.”