blood bus

A LifeSouth blood mobile sits outside of the Publix at the West Gate Shopping Center. “Emergency need” signs have been added to all of their blood mobiles during the summer. Photo by Joseph Salvador

The UF student body took one of the most valuable resources in the city when it left for summer adventures — blood.

Many of the students attending UF are on vacation, working summer internships or traveling abroad. This leaves LifeSouth Community Blood Centers with fewer student blood donors.

The blood bank depends on students as about 20 percent of its blood donations come from them, said Laura Bialeck, LifeSouth community development coordinator.

Bialeck works in the local community to spread the word about the need for blood and the importance of keeping the local hospital’s blood supply at a safe level.

“It’s really the community’s responsibility because it affects everyone,” she said.

LifeSouth supplies all of the blood for the North Florida Regional Medical Center, Malcom Randall VA Medical Center and UF Health Shands Hospital and all of its affiliates, said Brite Whitaker, director of communications and outreach for LifeSouth.

Whitaker, who oversees marketing for the organization, said she has to be more proactive during the summer in order to get more donors.

“We call our donors, we’re on social media, and we also work with the traditional media to get the word out that donations and donors are needed every day,” Whitaker said.

With Gainesville temperatures reaching record highs, donors are less willing to leave the comfort of their homes to donate blood. That did not stop Jaclyn Fosnacht, an infection control practitioner at UF Health, from doing her part.

Fosnacht said she tries to donate blood whenever she can. She was doing just that on Saturday in a LifeSouth bloodmobile parked outside of Publix at the West Gate Shopping Center.

A few moments of her time and having to stay hydrated afterwards was a small price to pay in exchange, Fosnacht said. A LifeSouth employee informed Fosnacht that her donation could save up to three lives.

“It doesn’t take that much time, and that’s an easy process to save lives,” Fosnacht said. “It’s very important to donate blood when there aren’t as many students.”

Another blood donor, Evan Cowie, a 19-year-old UF electrical engineering junior, said he was passionate about the importance of helping others as he was donating blood in a bloodmobile next to Century Tower on the UF campus on Tuesday.

“If you have the opportunity to save a life, do it,” he said. “Life is worth living, life is worth preserving, life is worth saving.”

For questions on donating blood, find more information from LifeSouth at lifesouth.org or call 888-795-2707.

Joseph Salvador is a Sports Journalism student at the University of Florida and was previously Sports Editor for Broward College's newspaper The Observer. He has been with the Alligator since Summer 2019.