Garth Englund blood drive engages students, community members

Julia Rentsch

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A student checks in to donate blood at the Garth Englund van. (Photo credit: Julia Rentsch)

The Garth Englund Blood Center of Poudre Valley Hospital conducted a blood drive at the Colorado State University campus on University Avenue Thursday.

Both first-time and returning blood donors visited the brightly colored van to give a pint of blood, in return receiving snacks, water and a t-shirt.

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“What’s good about our program is that what we collect here stays in Northern Colorado,” said Christina DiGiallonardo, a blood donor recruiter. “So, it’s kind of nice to know that your blood is staying local.”

The side of the van bears the slogan, “30 minutes can save three lives.”

“There is always a need,” DiGiallonardo said. “The more awareness we can get out about blood donation, the better off we all are.”

Ellen Bergly, a junior studying natural resources, recovered in the van after completing her third blood donation through the program.

“It’s not hard,” Bergly said. “And, it’s totally worth it.”

Donor Lily Ruiz, a senior health and human sciences student, has donated to blood drives since high school.

“It’s the least you can do,” Ruiz said. She was inspired to give blood by her niece, who had leukemia and needed blood given by donors.

“But not going to lie, it was the food,” Ruiz said, in reference to other factors that encouraged her to donate blood. The blood drive organizers provided crackers, chips, and other munchies to participants.

The program gives blood to Poudre Valley Hospital, Estes Park Medical Center, as well as centers in Loveland and Greeley — they will take blood of any type, but are especially in need of types A and O.

“People are very willing to donate,” DiGiallonardo said. “People really do care about each other, and we always do well when we come to CSU.”

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On average, a Garth Englund blood drive collects 20 to 30 pints of blood per session. Both nationally and regionally blood donation does not meet demand. 

DiGiallonardo made sure to dispel certain myths that circulate about giving blood, including that it is impossible to donate if a person has a tattoo or a piercing.

According to DiGiallonardo, if the person lets blood drive organizers know ahead of time, the organizers can go directly to the place the person got the tattoo or piercing and get a certificate that says the procedure was done in a sterile environment. This certification allows the person to freely give blood.

A single session burns around 600 calories, according to DiGiallonardo, and it is important to be hydrated and to eat a meal before giving blood.

The Garth Englund van will return to CSU campus from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 14.

The program will engage in an annual competition called the Border Blood War with United Blood Services, based in Cheyenne, Wyoming. This friendly competition for donations will coincide with the Colorado State football game versus the University of Wyoming.

Collegian Reporter Julia Rentsch can be reached online at news@collegian.com.