By Cameron Tirado SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) —Did you just blink? If you did, you won’t blink again for another four seconds. That seems quick, but in that time, two people in the U.S. needed blood, according to statistics from the Red Cross website.
A few seconds was also all it took 30 years ago for Pan Am 103 to fall from the sky onto Lockerbie, Scotland 30 years ago. Syracuse University Remembrance Scholars hosted a six-hour blood drive on Thursday in the Schine Student Center. Their goal was to collect 46 units of blood in honor of the flight’s victims; 35 of those units were symbolic of the Syracuse University students who perished and 11 were for the Lockerbie residents.
“The blood drive really, with the partnership of the Remembrance Scholarship, happened sort of as a bit of coincidence,” Lockerbie Scholar and blood drive organizer Joseph Holland explained. “I was at the student involvement fair on the quad, and I went up to the Red Cross stand. She asked where my accent was from and I got to explaining… I brought it to Remembrance Scholars and they thought we should bring it forward.”
Holland said it was a bit hectic to fit this event in during Remembrance Week, but he believes its fitting that it be held in December because the disaster occurred December 21.
“I think it’s right we’re doing it at a similar time, ” Holland as this acts back and looks forward while it engages with the community. “It’s been quite a surreal experience here. It’s an incredible honor to be representing Lockerbie, especially during the 30 year anniversary. It’s been life-changing.”
Medical conditions don’t stop just because it’s the holidays. And while winter is usually the
season of giving, the Red Cross has been struggling to find people to give blood during the
month of December.
For the Red Cross, there’s always a need for blood, but this time it’s urgent. One representative from the nonprofit says blood keeps going out faster than its coming in. Katie Stepanian said the Red Cross tries to have a five day supply worth of blood on hand at all times, but at the beginning of this month, those numbers were generally only a three day supply.
Why is blood so hard to come by? For starters, December sickness makes people less eligible to give because of colds and the flu, severe weather like wildfires and snow storms are causing donation drive cancellations, and the holidays leave less opportunity for business to host sites, Stepanian says.
This is problematic because the Red Cross provides 40% of the nation’s blood, according to its website. So while blood is collected locally and goes to nearby hospitals first, this problem stretches across the country because only about 10% of eligible people annually donate.
For those in the Syracuse area who missed the Remembrance Scholar’s blood drive Thursday, the Red Cross will be back on campus next Wednesday, 12/12, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Hendricks Chapel to try and stock up before students and staff go on hiatus from school.