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Blood drive draws few donors

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When Bakersfield College held a blood drive hosted by Houchin Blood Bank recently, blood bank officials hoped for a large turnout.

But only 19 people showed up to donate, according to Pam Hornbuckle, the community relations coordinator for the Houchin Blood Bank on Truxtun Avenue.

“It could have been a lot larger,” said Hornbuckle.

According to Hornbuckle, the average age of donors at the Truxtun location is about 25 to 45 years old.

“We really would like to see the younger generation start giving,” she said. “That’s going to build (our) donor base.”

Donating blood is simple and doesn’t take a lot of time out of the day.

The first time a person donates, there is an easy “yes” or “no” questionnaire to fill out. If approved, then it’s off to donate, Hornbuckle said.

From the time donors walk in the door to the time they walk out, it takes only 40 to 45 minutes. The actual drawing of a pint of blood only takes seven to 10 minutes, Hornbuckle said.

Once the blood is drawn, it is sent to the G Street location and tested for diseases.

When it’s cleared, it is distributed to hospitals for those who need it. It is stored in a refrigerator, has a shelf life of only 42 days.

“It’s like a carton of milk. It expires,” said Hornbuckle. “That’s why it is important for people to donate every 56 days.”

Also, it is healthy to donate, Hornbuckle said. It forces your body to create more red blood cells.

Houchin has a few requirements for donors aside from the questionnaire. One is that the donor is at least 17 years old and weighs at least 110 pounds.

But some people have misconceptions about giving blood.

A popular one, Hornbuckle said, is “it hurts.”

Another is that if the potential donor is on any medications or has high blood pressure. For students, a big one may be tattoos and piercings, since some believe they can’t donate at all. Once a tattoo is applied or a body part has been pierced, a person must wait one year before donating blood, unless it is an ear piercing done professionally.

A waiting period exists because “there are chances of diseases” and it is an FDA guideline, Hornbuckle said.

But to some students, the waiting period isn’t a concern considering they don’t donate blood. BC student Elizach Rangel, 21, said he is aware of the waiting period but doesn’t care because he doesn’t donate.

“I don’t feel like going out of my way to have a needle stuck in my arm,” said Rangel.

Houchin needs 150 donors a day to keep up the supply in Kern County. With only 3 percent of the community donating, it’s hard to fill that requirement.

Houchin is “quite low on every blood type” with O-positive and A-positive being the most common.

BC will hold another blood drive Dec. 4 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Hornbuckle said they will be trying to get a better location, so more students will know they are here.

“It’s a very good way to show your human kindness,” said Hornbuckle.

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Blood drive draws few donors