Whitewater steps up during national blood shortage


Ivy Steege

Freshman Joshua Stoughton squeezes a stress ball to maintain regular blood flow during his first donation at UW-Whitewater Tuesday, Feb. 22 in the University Center Hamilton Room.

Ivy Steege, Campus News Editor

America is facing its worst blood shortage in over a decade, according to the American Red Cross. The decline in donations impacts critical care patients in high risk situation. It forces doctors to choose who can receive blood transfusions before others. 

UW-Whitewater is doing its part to provide aid by hosting the first blood drive of the 2022 Spring Semester Tuesday, Feb. 22 in the University Center Hamilton Room. Hosted by the Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin, the event filled approximately 60 of its 78 time slots with people from around the Whitewater community donating their blood. 

“Especially now the blood supply is really diminished,” said the Director Brian Sorgi. “We’ve depended on a lot of businesses and schools in the past, and with Covid a lot of people are working from home and students are doing school virtually. They obviously couldn’t donate blood. So now it is the time to jump in there and build the supply back up.”

The American Red Cross reports a 62 percent drop in college and high school blood drives since the pandemic started. The shortage, in part, is largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While waiting to be called, Olive Crawaly (left) and David Yochum show off “Give a Pint, Get a Pint” coupons from Culvers. All donors were able to choose between coupons from Culvers, Noodles & Company or Vudu. (Ivy Steege )

“This isn’t my first time giving blood. I haven’t donated in a bit, so it’s good to be back,” said UW-W freshman Joshua Stoughton.

The drive included whole blood donations, where blood is collected at its original form, along with double red cell donations, a process that collects a concentrated amount of red blood cells. 

Retired Fairhaven Senior Services staff members, Olive Crawaly who was the Director of Nursing and David Yochum who served as Executive Director until 2009 have been going to blood drives together for years.  

“I’ve been giving blood for 65 years. I don’t drive, so when I’m looking for somebody else, I call David,” said Crawaly.  

Though they both live in Whitewater, this was their first time attending a blood drive hosted at the university. The outreach to the community for donations comes at a important time. The national blood supply is in a more critical state than before due to short comings of donations. 

“This is my second time donating blood,” said UW-W freshman Abigail Weeden. “My mom is a nurse, and she has been telling me there is a low blood supply.”

For those unable to donate, volunteering at a local blood collection center can be another easy way to make an impact. Versiti employee Tim Wilson started helping the organization during quarantine.

“I wasn’t getting hours when the pandemic started, so I came to work here,” said Wilson. “I really like this job, and I think I’m going to stay here even after my production job opens back up again.”

Versiti employee Ashlyn Plaza works to check in a student before their double red blood cell donation. (Ivy Steege )

Volunteers at Versiti can apply for multiple jobs such as a greeter, product delivery driver, and much more. 

To find a Versiti Blood Drive visit versiti.org

For information about the National Blood Shortage, visit the American Red Cross website at https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/dlp/red-cross-national-blood-shortage-crisis.html.