ESS asks students for their blood and DNA

By Scott Strasser

The Engineering Students Society (ESS) is trying to get 1,000 pokes, and not the kind you send that cutie who just added you on Facebook.

The ESS hopes to get 1,000 people out for blood tests that Canadian Blood Services (CBS) has organized for September. The event, A Thousand Pokes, will complement the blood donation drive the ESS holds every year.

“A Thousand Pokes is a promotion of blood donating and raising awareness of knowing our blood types,” SU engineering representative Parsa Samavati said. “If we know our blood types, we can know how effective it would be to donate blood. It would encourage people to donate blood more often and recognize the benefits it has to others.”

CBS will draw students’ blood with a prick of their fingers in MacEwan Concert Hall. According to their website, CBS collects around 850,000 units of blood every year.

After their fingers are pricked, participants are told which of the eight blood types they have. ESS vice-president student life Arthur Lu hopes this knowledge encourages students to donate blood.

“It’s just a poke to the finger. It takes five seconds,” Lu said. The event will include an optional cheek swab test to collect DNA.

“We’re trying to add to the bone marrow and stem-cell database, which is called One- Match,” Lu said.

OneMatch pairs blood donors with patients who need stemcell transplants.

Less than 30 per cent of patients who need a stem cell transplant find a match in their immediate family.

“Universities have a diverse population with different ethnicities and ages,” Lu said. “That’s why they target [students].”

If a Thousand Pokes participant matches with someone who needs a stem-cell transplant, Samavati said it’s up to them to decide if they donate.

“Just being tested does not mean you have to donate. It’s more for information,” Samavati said. “But if a perfect match does want to donate, there are several institutions in Canada that carry out [the necessary procedure].”

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