MU minority organizations team up to host blood drive

Friday, January 28, 2011 | 4:53 p.m. CST; updated 6:41 p.m. CST, Saturday, January 29, 2011
Nathan Stephens, adviser of Mizzou Black Men's Initiative, prepares to give blood at the program's first blood drive Friday. The event, held during Black Men Rising week, was held to increase the number of minority blood donors.

COLUMBIA — If you walked past Stotler Lounge in MU's Memorial Union on Friday morning, you heard music and students chattering about their classes, and you might have spied a table stacked with cookies and pretzels. At first glance, it might have seemed like a party.

But if you went inside, you found five gurneys with people stretched out on them — suspended blood bags expanding one by one.

Bone marrow drive coming up

The Mizzou Black Men’s Initiative will host a bone marrow drive from 2 to 6 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center, 813 Virginia Ave.

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From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Mizzou Black Men’s Initiative hosted the Blood Brothers' Blood Drive. The MBMI, a second-year organization that serves as an academic and social support system for young black men on campus, held the drive in an effort to raise awareness on the importance of minority blood donation in the community.

Coordinator Marcus Mayes began planning the event in September.

“For minorities nationwide, there are an extremely low number of donors," Mayes said. "And when it comes to blood matching, it’s easier to find a match with somebody who’s of your same ethnicity. There’s less chance of it being rejected.”

Thomas Loew sat at the sign-in desk with Mayes, encouraging everyone within earshot to donate, "I've given four gallons of blood — how much have you given?" 

Loew, a pediatrician who specializes in hematology at Children’s Hospital, said because there aren’t a lot of minorities donating blood, people with diseases like sickle-cell anemia or leukemia who need blood transfusions have less chance of finding the match they need.

Other event sponsors were Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Iota Phi Theta and Alpha Omega Theta fraternities, all traditionally African-American.

Jake Mitchell, an MBMI member also in Iota Phi Theta, said he was on board from the beginning.  

“This event is bigger than just giving blood," Mitchell said. "It signifies a movement by minorities on campus.”

Although the event was targeted toward minorities, Mayes said, all were welcome to attend.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re white, black or Asian," Mayes said. "What we’re doing here is all the same — we’re saving lives.”

MU graduate Christina Daltoso was one of many who decided to give.

“When I was 15 months old, I was burned — I had third-degree burns," Daltoso said. "So I try to give back whenever I can because there were a lot of people who helped me when I needed it.”

At 2:16 p.m., 62 people had signed in, and 12 more people were still waiting in line at the registration desk. Forty units of blood were donated. Mayes was excited, "We have certainly passed our goal of 25 people."

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