Red Cross preps MU for blood drive

Thursday, September 30, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:58 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

American Red Cross staffers held short information sessions this week for MU students and the public, introducing the donor recruitment and blood unit collection policies of the Homecoming Blood Drive on Oct. 12-13.

The Red Cross set up the sessions in the wake of a campus blood donation scandal during Greek Week in April, when an MU sophomore sent an e-mail encouraging her sorority members to donate blood even if it meant lying about their health conditions on donor questionnaires.

“We want to educate the people that blood donation is a lifelong process,” Red Cross spokesman Jim Williams said.

Six-of-seven 20-minute sessions Tuesday were directed at members of fraternity and sorority houses.

In both Homecoming and Greek Week, Greek houses compete against each other for points. Level of participation in the blood drive is one of the major categories in which they compete.

Gamma Phi Beta’s MU chapter made headlines when Christie Key, its blood donation coordinator, told her 170 sorority sisters via an April 6 e-mail: “I don’t care if you have a cold. Suck it up. We all do. LIE. Recent peircings (sic)? LIE. Even if you’re going to use the ‘Do Not Use My Blood’ sticker, GIVE ANYWAY.”

The story was picked up by national news media including The New York Times and CNN. Key apologized for her e-mail in a public statement and received discipline from the university and her sorority. The Red Cross destroyed the blood donated by members of Gamma Phi Beta in the Greek Week 2004 Blood Drive.

After one of the sessions, Delta Delta Delta member Kelly Dimaria said the incident had no negative impact on her attitude toward the blood drive.

“I can see how people take it,” she said. “But the core of it is for a good cause.”

Williams said about 1,620 Greek house members showed up for the sessions, during which they learned about the event’s mission statement, the importance of blood donation and specific qualifications for potential donors. The last session, which was directed at the public rather than the Greek community, had 30 attendees, Williams said.

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