by Shawna Graves, Office of Public Relations

Sul Ross State University is hosting a blood drive open to the general public September 24 and 25 in the Gallego Center Fish Bowl. It’s one of three drives arranged annually by Health Services Coordinator John Hughes, RN, BSN, and will be conducted by the nonprofit organization Vitalant.

Hughes, a retired perioperative nurse with the U.S. Navy, knows the importance of blood drives first hand.

“I’ve worked in operating rooms. I know the importance of blood. There is no substitute,” he said.

In 2003, during the Iraqi conflict, Hughes was stationed in the Persian Gulf on a hospital ship, the U.S. Naval Ship Comfort. He was fortunate not to lose any U.S. soldiers during his time there, but one night things came really close and it was the ample supply of blood infusions that saved a man’s life.

“Blood infusions kept a man alive when I was working on Comfort,” he said. The patient had been badly injured, and if it weren’t for the available supply of donated blood, he likely would not have lived.

After retiring from the Navy in 2005, Hughes joined the Sul Ross family.

“I like this environment,” he said of campus life. “We’re mostly focused on health and wellness education and I really like that.”

Hughes also served in the U.S. Army and borrowed the acronym of the Army’s mobile surgical hospital for one of his student outreach programs, Mentors Advancing Student Health or Bar-SR-Bar MASH.

The club provides education outreach to students by students. “We teach life skills that advance student health,” he said.

Blood drives are one of the many ways students engage in health awareness.

“You’d be surprised by how many students participate,” Hughes said.

Sul Ross blood drives net anywhere from 30 to 40 units of blood each day of the event.

Whole blood donations make up the bulk of those units, but double red cell donations are also accepted.

Whole blood contains all blood components including white and red cells, platelets and plasma and is frequently given to trauma and surgery patients. It takes about 15 minutes to donate whole blood, but the whole appointment may take anywhere from half an hour to an hour.

Double red cell donations separate red blood cells from other blood components, returning the plasma and platelets to the donor. The process takes 30 to 45 minutes and the entire appointment can be a little longer than an hour. This type of donation produces a concentrated dose for pediatric patients and patients who require daily infusions.

Hughes recommends scheduling an appointment for anyone planning to donate. “Walk-ins are always welcome, but appointments will have priority,” he said. Info on the blood drive and appointment links can be found in the Student Health Services section at sulross.edu.

The blood drive takes place from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday September 24 and from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday September 25.