Blood Drive Honors Henrietta Lacks
Arif Michael Vega, Staff Writer
Oct. 9, 2015
The scene in the North Mall Meeting Room qualified as bustling on Sept 29, when PVCC hosted the Red Cross Blood Drive in honor of Henrietta Lacks and the One Book program.
Henrietta Lacks is somewhat dubiously known as the donor of the first, and to date, most vigorous cell culture available to science. On Sept. 29 between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., students donated their own cells commandeered in the name of science. Red Cross advertising does, however, assure a specific end-user policy.
Students cycled through the process of interview, donation and recovery. A nervous composure marked those in wait. Bright eyes and red-taped gauze marked those who had finished the process, sitting in recovery, munching on health bars. Some had come in the name of the HeLa cell and others simply in good will.
Not all were permitted to donate however. Deferrals were entered in the Red Cross database for several behaviors such as international travel, organ transplants, injected drug use and homosexual activity, the last of which does draw some contention.
The Red Cross and the Center for Disease Control both label homosexual activity as “MSM” or ‘men who have had sex with men’. This category has the highest risk of blood borne pathogens such as HIV and AIDS. This statistic is unsatisfactory for many, however, when the deferral for MSM is lifelong and the deferral for injected drug use is only 12 months. “I just feel like they are saying that gay men are no better than junkies,” said Joseph Fowler
The FDA and the Red Cross both recommend that the lifetime ban on blood donations for MSM be reduced to one year, the same deferral as a corneal transplant.