As part of a push to meet high demand for blood at university medical centers, the USC Blood Donor Center at the Health Sciences Campus will open an additional location in the University Village Monday.
The current center at the Health Sciences campus has been open since 1996 and supplies the USC University Hospital and the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, which USC purchased in April. The acquisition has increased the need for blood, and the USC Blood Donor Center hopes to help fill this need by opening the UV location.
“What we really want to do is try to get the freshest blood possible for the hospital by having a donor center very close to campus,” said Maria Muniz, senior site manager of the USC Blood Donor Center. “We’re trying to encourage USC students to donate blood and platelets to better serve the hospital that needs them.”
As of now, the donor center is able to provide about 70 percent of the blood the university’s hospital needs, with the rest coming from secondary sources, Muniz said. The donor center hopes to eventually be able to fill 100 percent of the hospital’s blood needs.
Ira Shulman, professor and vice chair of pathology at the Keck School of Medicine said opening a donor center in the UV will help the USC hospitals become more self-sufficient.
“A donor center so close to campus will improve awareness and direct support for USC hospitals and their patients among USC students,” Shulman wrote in an email. “The convenient location and extended hours of operation may encourage students to donate more frequently.”
The HSC donor center bases its hours around the needs of the hospital. But once the UV center opens, its operating hours will be based on feedback from students.
“This will help the hospital tap into all the units it can potentially get,” Muniz said. “Right now, we’re open Monday through Friday, and closed on Thursday. But if students say Saturday is a good day [to donate], we will definitely look into that.”
Currently, students interested in donating blood around campus have to use the trucks that are often seen on Trousdale Parkway. The new center, however, will help the hospitals collect specific components they need, while the trucks focus just on blood.
“The center will specialize in collections using automated equipment to draw platelets and red cells from donors that meet specific requirements or have particular blood types that are in short supply at the hospital,” Shulman wrote. “Operation of the USC bloodmobiles will continue to focus on whole blood collections.”
Shulman said he expects the new center will have a significant impact on the hospital.
“This was the experience seen recently at UCLA, when that institution opened a blood and platelet donor center on campus this past summer. Donations among the student population rose because of the convenient location,” he wrote.
Students said having a permanent center close to campus would make them more likely to donate.
Sharon Kim, an undeclared freshman, donated blood frequently in high school, and has donated blood once since she’s been at USC. Though she said she didn’t mind giving blood to the donation truck, she believes some students would feel more comfortable donating blood in a formal location.
“Giving blood is a big deal to some people,” Kim said. “And some might not want to give blood to a random truck parked on campus.”
David Yoo, a junior majoring in creative writing, hasn’t donated blood to USC, but said he had similar feelings on the subject.
“I think it’s a good idea to have a location in an established building,” Yoo said. “It’ll definitely make it more convenient for students to have a center at the UV.”
Muniz said she hopes this new center will encourage students who are willing and able to donate blood to those in need.
“We want students to feel like they’re making USC get stronger,” Muniz said. “Every donor counts. Every single one.”