Medical Students Help Health Care Workers Through PPE Donations, Virtual Blood Drive

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A group of medical students at the Texas Christian University and University of North Texas Health Science Center School of Medicine have started a collection drive for personal protective equipment.

Connor Rodriguez, a first-year medical student, is one of those students. He said he and other classmates got the idea after a professor discussed the shortage of personal protective equipment and blood donations across hospitals.

Like other students, he is finishing the semester online due to COVID-19.

“I think some of my classmates and I talked about this, but this is what’s going to be in our textbooks, you know? Fifty years from now,” Rodriguez said. “So, I think this is going to be really interesting to see where this is going to take the field of medicine – especially with the increase in use of telemedicine and how technology is going to play a role in that.”

PPE donations are being set up curbside-style at the entrance of the TCU Frog Alley Parking garage at 3417 W. Cantey Street in Fort Worth. Beginning this week, individuals and companies may drop off donations everyday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. until April 20.    

In collaboration with the American Red Cross and Carter BloodCare, the students are also leading  a social media campaign through May 31, asking all who can to make an appointment with Red Cross or the local Carter BloodCare to safely donate blood.

They are encouraging people who donate blood to share their photos, or stickers, after the make a blood donation using the hashtag #FWMDBloodDrive

According to the American Red Cross, thousands of blood drives have been cancelled due to concerns surrounding coronavirus. Dr. D. Rohan Jeyarajah, chair of surgery at the TCU & UNTHSC School of Medicine, said blood is crucial for both patients of COVID-19 and others.

“Despite everything that’s going on, we’re trying so hard to take care of patients that come in with illnesses that are life threatening. Some of those require blood products that may not just be red blood cells, but it could be factors within blood that help with clotting,” Jeyarajah said. “It could be other things we could use – certainly on cancer patients.”

Jeyarajah said the plea from medical professionals is to have the young and healthy donate, if they can.

“Unfortunately, most of the donors are actually older patients and older donors. Of course, those people should be sheltering and not getting out,” he said. “I’ve got three kids myself, so I know how caring this generation is and everybody wants to do something while there’s a lot of focus on many things, I think this is one tangible thing that can be done.”

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