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Interview with Anastasia Akhlamova

Students of the Moscow State Psychological and Pedagogical University actively participate in the student donor movement. Anastasia Akhlamova, one of the donor movement leaders of the Moscow State Psychological and Pedagogical University, a 4th-year student of the Faculty of Clinical and Special Psychology, told us about how it was possible to survive the introduction of restrictive measures during a period of increased epidemiological danger.

Tell us about the donor movement at the university. What progress has been made in promoting the idea of blood donation?

The donor movement of the Moscow State Psychological and Pedagogical University was launched in 2014. The founders of the movement are activists of the Council of Students and Postgraduates. Since the day the movement was founded, activists have been spreading the idea of free regular blood donation and promoting a healthy lifestyle. The movement is a participant and laureate of numerous competitions, has prizes and awards. As part of educational work, organizers often come up with innovative ideas for disseminating donation, including the initiative to launch a thematic donor train in the metro and the “We are all of the same blood” project, in which donors and recipients exchanged warm letters with wishes, support and thanks.

How did the movement's team meet the pandemic and restrictive measures? What have you experienced?

At first, we were confused. Our jubilee tenth Donor Day, the brightest in the history of the movement, has just passed. The number of donors who came to the campaign was so great that we took several donation groups to the nearest hospital. We summed up the results rejoiced at how the movement had grown, and seemed to completely ignore what was happening around us. At the time, it all began, we did not immediately get together and rebuild. We did not see an opportunity for the continuation of the activity of our movement in the online format, it seemed that there was a time of silence, pause. However, it was not a bad decision to stop and think about what to do next.At first, we were confused. Our jubilee tenth Donor Day, the brightest in the history of the movement, has just passed. The number of donors who came to the campaign was so great that we took several donation groups to the nearest hospital. We summed up the results rejoiced at how the movement had grown, and seemed to completely ignore what was happening around us. At the time, it all began, we did not immediately get together and rebuild. We did not see an opportunity for the continuation of the activity of our movement in the online format, it seemed that there was a time of silence, pause. However, it was not a bad decision to stop and think about what to do next.

How did you manage to cope with the situation and resume activities?

From all sides came "stay home", "home is better." This did not get along with our ideas about the mission of the movement. It was very necessary to combine the demands of the authorities and common sense - the desire to help, not to stand aside. Explain to people that donating blood is just as important as staying at home. We did the first online movement meeting and brainstorming. With the joint efforts of our team, we launched the hashtag #Staydonor. It resonated and worked out very well. Almost round-the-clock work was carried out under this hashtag. We wrote simple and clear instructions on how to protect yourself from the virus, how to properly handle your hands, how to get a pass, where to find the nearest blood transfusion station, how to take advantage of free taxi rides to transfusion stations. It was very hard and consistent work, at the level of professional media. There were two or three posts per day, whereas earlier it was a weekly norm.

What results did you get thanks to this information?

We have increased the number of readers and group members. Our hashtag was actively disseminated and every day we received support and feedback both from donor associations and centers of Moscow and from other cities of Russia (Perm, Gornozavodsk, Leningrad Region, Dagestan, Yekaterinburg, Arkhangelsk, Ufa, Ulyanovsk, Cherepovets, Samara, Khabarovsk) and the city of Taldykorgan in Kazakhstan. We were even mentioned in the news on the website of the Ministry of Health. Many of our students and organizers donated blood during this period, some for the first time. We, as donors, felt support from various organizations - we took taxis to blood centers and back for free, shops gifted certificates for donations, people and doctors thanked us for our position in life.

Thanks to the #Staydonor company, we met a large number of caring people. This motivated and inspired our entire team.

But these are not your only projects of the "quarantine era"?

Of course, not, the increase in the number of posts required new materials. Our team has developed several new columns. Under the heading "Donate blood in the district" they talked about the Blood Centers in different districts of the city. The heading "Hand over in parts" appeared, where it was said about the donation of individual blood components. The "Support the Donor" discussion platform contained information on how you can help, even if you cannot donate blood yet. "Kelly's Life" is a section where humorously they shared news and tips from the diary of our symbol - the red alpaca Kelly. The section "Victory Donor" became very important, they acquainted our readers with the development of donation during the war, the search for blood substitutes, the work of blood services in besieged Leningrad, Moscow, Cherepovets, Saratov.

Tell us a little more about the symbol of the movement - Kelly.

In the fall of 2019, our movement chose the red alpaca as the symbol of the movement, because alpacas have a high level of hemoglobin in their blood. Alpacas breathe high-mountainous thin air, and therefore the blood cells are rearranged to receive as much hemoglobin as possible. And as you know, hemoglobin is of great importance for donation.

It was a little more difficult to decide on the name of our symbol, but it was chosen by voting. Now Kelly has a rather busy life - she keeps a diary, provides culinary masterclasses, attends outdoor events with the support of our donors, and always participates in the donor's university days. She also has a friend, Kapelka (Droplet) from the Donor Volga movement, whom she met in May 2020 while traveling on the Internet, adhering to all the rules of behavior for self-isolation.

And our traditional question: what would you wish to donors and people, who are going to join the donor program?

You know, the donation is a deliberate choice. This is a choice of regular donations, when they can rely on you, when you take a responsible approach to yourself and your health, when there is no indifference, not only in emergency moments. Donation is not a competition between different associations for a one-time amount of collected blood, it is a systematic and sometimes quite hard work aimed at educating and developing donors.

We would like to wish everyone good health and high hemoglobin levels. And the main thing is to approach donation with a "cool head" and make a choice in the direction of regular, albeit not massive, actions.

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