News Release

Mormon University Students Save Lives

Jesse Johnson, a neuroscience major, and his friends Justin Stanford and Mike Passey were among the 143 Mormon students in their institute of religion group — a weekly religious instruction group for young single adults ages 18 to 30 and married college and university students — who decided to help. The institute students pledged to donate a total of 130 units of blood during the school year and exceeded their goal.

Johanna Del Rosario, Community Development Coordinator for Canadian Blood Services in Calgary says, “It often takes many donations to help save one hospital patient. One heart surgery patient can need five units of blood. 

The partnership with Mormon institute students has also extended to Calgary. Again the students exceeded their goal for units donated. Thad Mandin, an institute instructor in Calgary says the blood drive is very much a student-directed program. Many of these student donors have served two-year volunteer missions for the Church throughout the world and want to continue to be of service to others. Del Rosario says, “We usually say that you can save three patients from one donated unit so possibly the units of blood collected from the institute students in Lethbridge and Calgary’s Institute of Religion students have saved more than 648 lives.

Shamus Neeson, Community Development Coordinator for Canadian Blood Services in Lethbridge, Alberta, says, “I appreciate all the hard work the Mormon students do for us.”

But Jesse Johnson insists that “donating blood is easy, and you can do it on your own time. It makes you feel good that you have something to give that is so essential for someone else to live.”

A donor can contribute blood every 56 days, so Johnson makes it a priority to donate as often as he can. He has donated 12 units of blood since his return from a mission.

Passey sets an alarm in his cell phone to remind him when to donate. Stanford also participates regularly; he likes that he can fit this volunteer service into his busy university schedule.

The institute of religion adjacent to the University of Lethbridge, like other Mormon institutes of religion, provides instruction on the gospel of Jesus Christ as well as provides students with opportunities to have social activities and to serve in the community. University of Lethbridge Institute secretary Kathy Szakaly says, “The students are always looking for opportunities to help, and they understood from the ‘Partners for Life’ program]how the need for blood is so great. The partnership works.”

Though some may be squeamish to donate their blood, one positive outcome of the pre-screening process is that of identifying health concerns such as an iron deficiency or a compromised immune system that may exist without the potential donor being aware of it.

For Passey, who donates regularly, the opportunity to donate blood never existed in his rural community prior to his going to school. “I had wanted to donate blood, but I never knew where the place to do it was. When the institute had a blood drive, it was the perfect chance for me to get started on donating.”

Because Passey plans on being a lifetime blood donor, he feels confident that the pre-screening process will always give him a good idea about his health. “I’m going to donate until I can’t.”

For Jesse Johnson, Michael Passey and Justin Stanford, their contribution to saving a life has enriched their university experience.

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