Since 2000, Stony Brook University has partnered with New York Blood Center (NYBC), a community-based, nonprofit organization, to host blood drives and encourage students to donate blood and become lifetime donors.
These blood drives, spearheaded by the Student Blood Drive Committee, have averaged 1,500 blood donations each academic year. On February 22, Stony Brook and NYBC celebrated a very special milestone: 100,000 lives saved through 33,334 blood donations from Stony Brook students. One blood donation has the ability to save up to three lives.
“This milestone was 22 years in the making and Stony Brook has given us so much support along the way,” said Yadira Navarro, NYBC director of community and stakeholder relations. “It’s important to celebrate this moment and give a face and a voice to some of the people who have made it possible.”
Viola Flowers ‘25, a sophomore journalism major and president of the Student Blood Drive Committee, told her own personal story about the importance of donating.
“This volunteer work has nothing to do with my major and it’s not a resume builder, it’s an act of passion,” she said. “My grandfather and uncle both had leukemia and needed transfusions. My family was able to enjoy extra time with them thanks to those transfusions. And it was the generosity of blood donors that made that possible.”
The landmark 33,334th blood donation, which happened on February 8, was made by freshman biology major Kymorah Boddie ’26.
“This is the first time in my 18 years that I gave blood,” said Boddie. “I had no idea what a personal experience it was. After I donated, I realized how special it is to really help others’ lives.”
“I’ve been donating for years, especially after I found out I had type O negative blood, which makes me a universal donor,” said longtime blood donor Jamie Singh. “I thought it was such a great gift and I had a unique opportunity to help others.”
Singh convinced her twin sister and mother — both of whom also have type O negative blood — to join her in donating. Years later, after undergoing a minor surgical procedure, Singh experienced severe hemorrhaging and blood loss, requiring 12 units of blood.
“I started as a donor never thinking I would one day be a recipient,” she said. “All of a sudden I needed blood to stay alive. It wasn’t just blood anymore, it was life. It was my life.”
Rick Gatteau, vice president for Student Affairs, spoke about how the partnership with NYBC reinforces Stony Brook’s dedication to the community.
“Stony Brook has long had a strong connection to the medical community and the local community in general,” he said. “Giving blood saves lives and contributes in a very personal and meaningful way. This is exactly what is embedded in Stony Brook’s DNA. We’ve had an amazing partnership with NYBC and it’s an honor to support these efforts.
The event featured the unveiling of a tapestry created by alumnus Xiaohui Wang ‘20, known professionally as Katie X, which will be on display in the Student Activities Center (SAC).
“We looked around and saw a lot of plaques,” said Gatteau. “We wanted something special to mark this special day and achievement, so we commissioned this great piece of art.”
The Student Blood Drive Committee’s next blood drive, will take place March 8 in SAC Ballroom A from 11 am to 8 pm.
— Robert Emproto