"Blood donation together is a nice, shared event"
The blood donation group, or Blood Group, of the Kuopio School of Medicine students’ association KuoLO was founded as recently as in autumn 2015, but it has already received three golden diplomas for its active involvement in blood donation. The group topped the ranking list already during its first full year of operation, and has since held the position unchallenged.
The level of involvement of medical students in Kuopio is perhaps best demonstrated by the fact that due to them, the Blood Service had to introduce a new, platinum diploma for blood donation groups with over 50 donations. Last year, the association’s members donated blood an astonishing 128 number of times, either as a group or separately.
“ I donated blood while on a visit across the country to Turku around Christmas last year, and there too the nurse was familiar with the KuoLO Blood Group. It seems that our reputation pre-cedes us,” says Santtu Kerttula, this time donating in Joensuu due to his summer job at the local health centre.
Another member of the group, Viola Haapasalo, is also attending the blood donation event at the Joensuu public library. Like Santtu, she is in Joensuu to work as a medical intern over the summer. It would appear that mobility and flexibility of its members are one ingredient for the Blood Group’s success, as the Kuopio-based students have recorded donations in nearly every corner of the country.
“I sometimes also donate in Jyväskylä while in town to visit a friend,” says Viola.
Anna Kerkkonen was the project organiser for KuoLO at the time of founding the Blood Group, and she is still the driving force behind the group.
“Nobody in my family had ever donated blood, but for some reason, I had been mulling over the idea for quite some time. Once my active sports career in orienteering ended, I researched the Blood Service website and discovered the Blood Groups. As the time and idea felt just right, I decided to found a Blood Group for KuoLO to make sure I wouldn’t skip out on donating my-self!”
According to Anna, far from heavy-handed recruitment, the group works by simply sending out reminders to the student association’s mailing list on blood donation, and by giving motivation and encouragement for new donators to visit the Blood Service office in Kuopio.
“We usually head over to the office in smaller groups, often on Friday afternoons after classes. The occasion itself is a nice, shared event, as people get together, donate blood and take some time to rest, drink juice and settle down for the weekend,” Anna describes.
As for explaining the number of motivated blood donators in the KuoLO student association, Anna can only venture a guess.
“Anaemia and intravenous drips are familiar to many of us through studies and work, and donating is such an easy way to help. Another advantage for us is the sheer size of our association with over 900 members,” she considers.
“With that in mind, I would like to challenge all student associations to step up. Nearly every university town also has an office of the Blood Service, and donating as a group is easy!
Photos: Johanna Kokkola
Published in Avun maailma -magazine 3/2018