Med Club Holds Blood Drive in Partnership with American Red Cross


Sidwell’s Med Club held a blood drive on April 11 in response to the national blood shortage. Photo: Anya Vedantambe ’24.

On April 11, Sidwell’s Med Club hosted a blood drive in coordination with the American Red Cross. The event followed an earlier blood drive hosted by the Med Club in December, garnering around 60 total signups from students, faculty and parents.

The blood drive was held in response to the national blood shortage, which coincided with increased hospitalizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The Red Cross declared its first-ever national blood crisis and at some points was able to give hospitals only ¼ of the blood that they needed,” said Med Club co-head and junior Anya Vedantambe, who was the main host of the event. 

Vedantambe commented that she had wanted to hold a blood drive at Sidwell since eighth grade, during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was inspired to host the event because many of her family members and close friends received life-saving blood transfusions from blood donations.  

Another reason Vedantambe was inspired to hold the blood drive at Sidwell is because she finds it rewarding to know that “10 minutes of your time can make such a huge difference in someone else’s life.”

Furthermore, Vedantambe and other club heads hoped to support the mission of the American Red Cross, a non-profit organization that mobilizes volunteers to assist in medical emergencies and supply lifesaving blood. 

Vedantambe mentioned that the American Red Cross is the largest blood supplier in the entire United States. 

“The organization accounts for approximately 40% of the nation’s blood supply,” Vedantambe said. The remaining 60% of blood donors come from individual community organizations, hospitals and other sources, according to the NIH. 

Director of Parent Relations Kathi Webb and Director of Auxiliary Services Alexandra McCoy, both of whom handle community engagement and outreach for the Sidwell community, worked closely with the Med Club heads when holding the blood drive. In particular, they worked closely with Vedantambe in meetings and in communications with Red Cross representatives.

Webb has hosted numerous blood drives during her time at Sidwell. She said that the blood drives inspire her because she has “been a recipient of donated blood” as well as a blood donor. She finds that giving blood is painless, simple and rewarding.

According to Webb, the biggest challenge when hosting blood drives is that “there are so many asks in our community that this request may not stand out.” She adds that some people are afraid of needles, or they might have had blood-donation restrictions in the past, which prevent them from returning again. 

Vedantambe added that many people are afraid of donating blood because they fear that they may contract COVID-19. She also mentioned it might be difficult for people with “good intentions” to go to a blood drive because they may have to travel long distances at inconvenient times. 

Vedantambe also indicated that some might not be aware blood shortages are an issue. She commented that bringing the blood drive to Sidwell “enlighten[ed] the community about blood shortages and ma[de] it as easy as possible for [people] to donate.” 

Both Vedantambe and Webb engaged in community outreach to bring awareness about the blood drive to people outside the Sidwell community. Vedantambe posted flyers in the vicinity of the Tenley-Friendship Neighborhood Library and in the Politics and Prose bookstores in the Chevy Chase and Wakefield neighborhoods. Additionally, in order to increase participation, the Med Club offered Fox Den prizes to select donors and a variety of snacks for all who attended.

Webb also posted flyers in the City Ridge complex and at American University. Director of Equity, Justice, and Community Natalie Randolph, a faculty member who also contributes to Sidwell’s social media presence, posted digital flyers on multiple Sidwell Instagram accounts.

Med Club co-head and senior Michael Razavi, a first-time donor, wanted to participate to support Vedantambe and help end the blood shortage. He was nervous since it was his first time donating blood, but he received reassurance when he was getting his blood drawn. 

Senior Asmi Pareek, another first-time donor, commented that she was not too nervous because she had gotten her blood drawn before. She was mainly concerned with the amount of blood they were going to draw. 

Pareek was inspired to participate in the blood drive by the American Red Cross’ mission and Vedantambe’s efforts. “I have blood, so why not give it?” she said.

The Red Cross partners reported that Sidwell collected 29 units of whole blood, which is the largest amount the school has been able to donate from a blood drive. The Med Club and the Sidwell community at large are looking forward to more successful blood drives in the future.