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Interview with Anna Terentyeva and Alexey Sevryugov

The St. Petersburg student organization "Blood Drop" is a one-of-a-kind talent foundry for the volunteer movement of donors. They coordinate and inspire the efforts of like-minded people in many universities of St. Petersburg. Everyone who contacts them about blood donation receives support. The Curators of Blood Drop Anna Terentyeva and Aleksey Sevryugov told us more about the project.

What is the mission of the Blood Drop Project?

Anna Terentyeva. Blood Drop is one of the largest student donor organizations in St. Petersburg. Blood donation for us is an affordable way to save a life, to make a miracle. This is a real medicine, a salvation for a huge number of people: patients with hereditary diseases, people with weakened immune systems or victims of accidents, and many others. It is important that the availability of blood components depends only on ourselves. It cannot be produced artificially; a person needs a person. We try to make the donor journey easier, as a part of a fun student life, dispel myths and contribute to the promotion of a healthy lifestyle. It is important to prove that there are ways to help, even with contraindications to blood donation. After all, you can attract friends, become a volunteer and help to organize trips to blood transfusion departments. This is how we help the Blood Service develop free donation among young people.

There is a donor movement in every university. You set a more global task - to unite the forces of different student communities. How does it work in practice?

A.T. There are people who want to be a donor in every university. Guys can donate blood on their own, without joining forces. This case, it is unlikely that someone will encourage a fellow student to do it together. After all, good deeds are usually not talked about. But with an organized donor movement at the university, students can support each other, they are more willing to tell others about blood donation and share their experience. The donor organization at the university is able to motivate students to donate blood regularly, becoming a source of accessible latest information. And, already uniting the forces of different student communities, we prove to the younger generation that all of us has the opportunity to develop the donor movement. In order for this to work in practice, we talk about the difficulties in organizing field events, in attracting students to volunteer events. The "Donor Fund" has become a platform for the exchange of experience.

What is this organization - "Donor Fund"?

А. Т. This is a public organization in St. Petersburg. Thanks to the activities of the foundation in the youth environment, donor student organizations of several universities and colleges managed to unite. Blood Drop volunteers, as representatives of the St. Petersburg State Pediatric Medical University, and experienced organizers of the donor movement help the Donor Fund to develop donation at other universities. And for an audience, students provide lectures and help in donor actions as part of the Fund's activities.

What kind of assistance can you offer to the donor office of the university?

А. Т. When a donor association wants to involve newcomers, especially first-year students, in actions, we can help them talk about blood donation - preparation for donation, contraindications, misconceptions. This is very important to do before organizing an action. And we have visual electronic materials and friendly speaker guys who will not be puzzled by questions and are able to explain some medical terms easily. We will also help to reveal the topic of bone marrow donation.

Sometimes you are invited to an educational institution as anti-crisis managers. Is it to establish work with blood donors, build a donor community?

Alexey Sevryugov. We may be asked for help as experienced representatives of the donor movement. We actively cooperate with other projects in St. Petersburg and are always ready to provide support. Often we are asked to give a blood and bone marrow donation lecture.

How do you coordinate your work with the Blood Service?

A.S. Before a planned donor campaign, we always contact the management of blood transfusion departments in advance and clarify the possibility of holding a donor campaign on specific dates. We also find out all the current requirements for donors in this institution. We keep in touch with blood transfusion departments to keep abreast of all changes.

What weaknesses do you see in the organization of Donor Days in universities? How can the situation be improved?

А. Т. Our students are really waiting for donor actions, but not all of them come to the donor lesson a day before. Studying at a medical school and access to the “Blood Drop” group on VKontakte leave them no doubt that they know and remember how to prepare for a donation. However, it is never redundant to remember the timing of withdrawals from donation or to think over breakfast on the day before. We transfered the donor lesson for students to online. So no one will miss the lecture and watch it in a comfortable environment.

What kind of support do you receive from the authorities?

А. Т. At the beginning of the academic year, we successfully defended the project and received financial support from the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs (Rosmolodezh). We use the funds to create original souvenirs in order to increase the recognition of the donor organization among students, to attract new donors and volunteers. The authorities are interested in helping student volunteer organizations in presenting the interests and motives of the community. They provide valuable information support for the successful implementation of the project in St. Petersburg.

Information support of actions is the basis of success. Tell us how should PR be organized in the donor movement?

А. Т. It's a team work. Writing an announcement of the action, and posting a photo report does not attract much attention of students. Therefore, Blood Drop volunteers are ready to tell classmates about the campaign, answer questions or help find answers in our group. It is important that each volunteer of the project willingly shares information, can support a person, does not scare away, does not let them get confused in doubts and questions. It's cool when donors themselves want to tell friends, share on social networks about a good deed. They say that they not only donated blood, but also received memorable original souvenirs, talked with the guys and did not regret at all that they allowed themselves to miss the class at the university. Posts about blood donation and blood diseases still appear in our VKontakte group between actions. This is not possible without editors, designers and volunteers with many creative ideas.

And our traditional question: what would you wish donors and those who are just about to join the donor program?

А. Т. I would like to wish donors health, so that happiness and goodness accompany them in life. They donate a piece of miracle for free, so let the good return to them doubly. For those who are just about to become part of the donor movement, do not lose enthusiasm, look for like-minded people and talk about the importance of each person in blood donation.

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