Heart-to-heart: Harper community gives blood on Valentine’s Day blood drive


Two Versiti blood drive advertisements displayed in the main hall of Building M, the Health and Recreation Center at Harper College. (Photo by Heidi Gerhardt)

The Valentine’s Day spirit ran through the veins of many community members as they donated to Versiti’s first blood drive held at Harper on Tuesday, February 14.

Versiti, a blood health non-profit that describes themselves as “a fusion of donors, scientific curiosity and precision medicine,” stationed themselves in room M2012 in the Health and Recreation Center from 10am to 3pm. The event was sponsored by Versiti Blood Centers, Harper Wellness, Faculty Senate and the Student Veteran Association. 

The six Versiti Blood Center employees confirmed that a total of 32 donors volunteered for the blood drive over the course of their stay.

Although many prospective donors were unable to give blood due to a variety of factors such as being light-weight, having low iron or small veins, Versiti still offered a waiting list to anyone who would still be interested in donating at a later date. 

“I was not heavy enough to donate today,” Harper student Victoria Chu said. “I needed to be 110 pounds, maybe I’ll be able to next week with a better meal.” 

A refreshments station was provided to donors following their contribution, as well as receiving a gift of a Versiti winter hat or T-shirt. 

Donors heard about the blood drive from various fliers, emails, as well as Harper’s and Versiti’s website. Harper’s digital event calendar held all the information for the event, including a sign-up form and a statement that scheduled appointments were preferred over walk-ins. 

According to the digital event calendar, the process of donating blood would take about half-an-hour per volunteer, with an estimate that each donation would save three lives. 

Mobile phlebotomist Caitlin Gabriel explained the basic process the blood takes after being donated.

“We take it back to our home center [in Aurora]. We have a lab there that processes and filters out all the blood, and then from there the lab does its work, which takes a couple days to process,” Gabriel said. “Blood donations go out to people involved in car crashes, burns… the not-so-fun stuff. It also goes to cancer patients who need chemotherapy and some infants in the NICU [neonatal intensive care unit].”

Many people were weary about donating – after donating for her very first time, Harper student and Pre-Med Club member Mariyum Bukhari explained that she wanted to go and reassure her friends who wanted to participate.

“It’s not as bad as it looks!” Bukhari attested. 

Amy Desautels, who works as the executive assistant to Harper’s vice president Laura Brown, was finally able to make her donation after about 20 years of being unable to donate.

“I have had cancer before and needed a transfusion at least once, so this is just a great way to give back,” Desautels said. “It’s really cool knowing someone did it for me and that I can pass it on.” 

Another Versiti Blood drive was also held February 22 for additional donors.