Rupak Mukherjee, Ph.D. organizes blood drive to prepare for increased need; many faculty and staff participate in MUSC and local blood drives

The Red Cross faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during the coronavirus outbreak.

Prabhakar Baliga, M.D., chair of the Department of Surgery, sent an email to the department to help raise awareness to the urgent need, noting that in the week of March 16 over 40 drives were cancelled in SC and the Red Cross was expecting cancellations to continue to increase. Dr. Baliga asked anyone who can[DR1] [HL2]  donate blood to consider giving at any of the local donation sites.

Rupak Mukherjee, Ph.D., associate professor in the division of cardiothoracic surgery, regularly helps coordinate and recruit blood donors for the Hindu Temple of Charleston-sponsored American Red Cross blood drives. Dr. Mukherjee encouraged members of the MUSC-community to participate in the March 20 blood drive at the Temple, on-campus, or other community-based drives.

Their calls for action were answered.

“We had a very successful blood drive,” said Mukherjee. “Most of the donors were MUSC faculty, staff and students from the College of Medicine.” In fact, the March 20 drive at the Temple collected 36 units of blood, exceeding the target of 28 set by the American Red Cross. On a more personal note, since Mukherjee’s arrival in the U.S. in 1988, he has been a regular donor and logged his 160th donation on March 20, a milestone of 20 gallons!

During the drive at the Hindu Temple, donors are treated to home-cooked Indian Food, which Mukherjee also helps coordinate to further incentivize donations. According to some of the March 20 blood donors, Vera Ford, Sydney Jaicks, and Sara Frampton, the food was an unexpected treat.

Other MUSC faculty and staff donated at the American Red Cross Blood Mobile or within their community. Ravi Veeraswamy, M.D., chief of vascular surgery, donated at the MUSC blood mobile, along with his 80-year-old mother, Vijaya.  Heather Evans, M.D., MS, professor of general and acute care surgery, and  Ashley Hink, M.D., MPH, assistant professor of general and acute care surgery, donated at their local Red Cross sites. Many other faculty and staff donated as well.

“Members from MUSC who donated – either at the Temple, on campus, or at their community donation center, contributed immeasurably to the public health of our community,” said Mukherjee. “If you haven’t donated yet, please consider donation as the need is great.”  The March 29, 2020 notification from the Red Cross stated that there was a nationwide shortfall of 186,000 units!

The Red Cross will have their blood mobile at the Library/Horseshoe on March 31, April 7, April 8, and April 14.  People can visit the Red Cross blood donation website  www.redcrossblood.org and type in sponsor code MUSC to locate these drives and book their appointments.  In addition, the Red Cross blood collection sites in Mount Pleasant and West Ashley remain open.