Editorial: Donated blood a timely, critical gift

Should Hurricane Isabel cause a profound amount of damage to inland Villanova – an unlikely event, at best – students would likely find themselves without a great many essential items.

Food and clothing would both be in very short supply. Buildings would likely suffer damage and might be uninhabitable. And medical supplies would become a priority for patients dependent on certain supplements.

The American Red Cross would be a primary donor of supplies to needy students. But one critical supply the Red Cross would not be able to provide is blood.

On Monday, the Red Cross announced that its disaster relief blood supply is empty, which leaves hurricane victims in a precarious situation. The charity is begging qualified donors to provide blood for potential victims.

It is fitting that this coming week, the University will host a blood drive. Typically, turnout at these events is high, but at a national level blood donations have declined vastly since surging to new heights in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The Red Cross may be partly to blame for this, since after the donations skyrocketed officials admitted that they did not have enough resources to properly store all the blood they received.

The blood shortage cannot be resolved by ink on newsprint. It takes people willing to understand that their sacrifice – a painful prick to the arm, a pint of lost blood and perhaps an ephemeral dizziness – can be the difference between life and death for someone. It sounds clichéd, but it’s true. Without significant reserves of blood in its bank, the Red Cross is powerless to help not only those who may be devastated in the hurricane or other natural disaster but also those who require day-to-day transfusions.

In the past, Villanova students have come together to support countless charitable causes. The overwhelming interest in volunteerism can be seen annually in events such as Habitat for Humanity and mission trips and Special Olympics as well as in ongoing service commitments like Project Sunshine and Bigs and Littles. This is another way for students to give back to their community and beyond – a chance to touch lives which are otherwise far removed from the bubble our campus is sometimes likened to.

It is highly unlikely that the University will suffer so much damage from Isabel that students will require aid. But it is likely that others will require assistance until this blood drought comes to an end. The donation of blood is such a small gesture with such a powerful impact that every student eligible should sign up to donate on Tuesday.