Nearly a year after its opening, the USC Blood Donor Center is continuing its efforts to reach out to students for more donors.
President C.L. Max Nikias has been instrumental in getting the message to potential donors. In a letter to the Trojan Family, Nikias stated that students, faculty and staff donating blood can help the university’s hospitals become more self-sufficient.
According to Maria Muniz, manager of the blood center, between the mobile donor drives and the two donor centers, USC is 75 to 85 percent self-sufficient. She said that the new donor center has helped to support their progress.
“Trying to get to 100 percent efficiency is an ambitious goal, but now with the donor center it’s becoming closer to reality,” Muniz said. “Every month is getting better than the last.”
Located in the University Village right across from the main campus, the center opened in an effort to increase the blood bank so USC’s hospitals can become self-sufficient.
Not many students, however, know about the donor center, she said.
“Last year we didn’t get enough marketing out there to let the students know that we’re here,” Muniz said.
One way the center reaches out to students is through its mobile blood drives, which occur twice a month on Trousdale Parkway. After the blood drive, a donor is contacted and asked to donate more regularly.
“They don’t know that we have a center and it’s our opportunity to grab their attention,” Muniz said.
Another goal of the center is to reach a point where mostly USC students and student organizations are involved. Not only can students help save lives by donating blood, but they also have the opportunity to fulfill community service requirements for their organizations.
“It’s really an effort to see how many organizations we can have represented at the donor center. We’re really tapping into the student base and getting them to be regular donors and spread the word,” Muniz said.
Alumna Karen Poon has become one of those regular donors. Poon, who graduated last December with a degree in accounting, donated blood for the fourth time Tuesday.
Her first time donating to USC was at a mobile blood drive two years ago. After graduating she looked for a place to donate blood and discovered the donor center. Poon thought it was a good idea to go back to USC to donate.
“I feel comfortable coming back here, I see [the staff] a lot,” she said.
Poon feels that the blood center is more private and personal than previous places she has donated blood. Since it’s smaller, she feels that the employees are trustworthy.
“When I came in [the first time] it was perfect,” she said.
Kyle Allen, a freshman majoring in biological sciences, first donated blood at his high school, where the Red Cross held blood drives every semester.
Allen wasn’t aware of the donor center nearby, but heard about its location at the University Village.
“It was a rewarding experience and I plan on doing it again,” Allen said.
Muniz said that students who donate in college are more likely to donate later in life. The center aims to create educated donors who will hopefully donate beyond their years at USC.
Previously, there had only been one USC donor center on the Health Sciences Campus, near the University Hospital.
When USC took control of the USC Norris Cancer Hospital and the USC University Hospital last year, the hospitals had plans for blood supply growth, Muniz said.
“It was preemptive on our part to build a new donor center,” Muniz said.