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Interview with Natalia Asanova

Thanks to student groups the Mordovian Blood Service attracted thousands of new donors and established large-scale work with the youth of the republic. The results of this joint work were highly appreciated by the jury of the All-Russian Competition of Professional Skills of the Blood Service. The project "Donor student teams" became a laureate in the nomination "When hearts beat in unison." Together with Natalya Asanova, pr-manager of the Mordovian Republican Blood Transfusion Station we discussed the support of student teams as a guarantee of success.

You have worked with students before, but how did the idea of creating student groups for a planned work in the donor area come about?

The student community of the Republic of Mordovia is quite numerous. Active and positive students are the hope for the future of the donor movement, so we have always worked closely with them. Our story with the public organization Russian Student Teams (RSO) began in 2016, when the participants of the teams initiated a donor campaign and successfully carried it out. We saw a huge potential, organization, incredible responsiveness and willingness to help. The blood service created a special project in which they teamed up with the squads, and so we became one team.

What hopes did you have for the new format of the youth donor movement, what goals did you set?

The main goal is to attract students to become donors and volunteers. The other important task is to improve the system of interaction between the Blood Service and educational and public organizations, volunteer groups in the region. Russian Student Teams is the largest youth organization in the country. It provides temporary employment for students of higher and secondary specialized educational institutions, is engaged in civic and patriotic education of young people, develops their creative potential, and conducts sports training. The RSO of Russia is 240,000 students from 74 regions! In Mordovia, the activity of student teams is so popular that it is very prestigious and even fashionable to be in. Not a single significant youth event in the region is complete without the participation of student teams. Today they have 2,456 participants, all of them are in the donor movement.

On what basis are units created and how are they managed?

Now there are 89 student teams in five areas in Mordovia - medical, construction, service, pedagogical and guide teams. Each detachment has a responsible organizer of the donor movement and his assistant. They are entrusted with the work of informing the participants about donor campaigns, news and important events. The organizers are coordinated by the commanders of the detachments, who transmit the necessary information to the Commander and Commissioner of the regional branch. The latter, in turn, control the entire process of preparing and holding actions and participate in them as blood donors. If for some reason a member of the student team cannot donate blood, he participates in the promotion of blood donation.

What is the mission and program of action for each unit?

Donation is an important component of the professional activity of medical students. The members of the medical teams were among the first to undergo training and internships at the School of Volunteers of the Blood Service of Mordovia, and began to successfully involve their associates from other teams in the donor movement. The mission of medical students is to competently and easily convey reliable information about the donation of blood and its components to the RSO and, if possible, to become donors themselves. The mission of detachments of all directions is to participate in voluntary donation of blood and its components. The program of action is drawn up for the year for the entire regional office and begins on the 1st of September.

Tell us about the most successful campaigns.

We have carried out 29 donor campaigns with RSO. Each action is remembered because it takes place on the same breath, vigorously, fun and festive. I would like to note the participation of the Student Teams of Mordovia in the Interregional Donor Marathon "Knocking on the Hearts" of the National Health Fund of Russia in 2018. The guys became winners, as later in the Special Competition of the Presidential Grants Fund in 2020. The cooperation between the Blood Service of Mordovia and student teams reached a qualitatively new level. Thanks to this, our joint project was realized. We were able to conduct a large cycle of educational seminars aimed at building a culture of responsible donation. At the same time, they focused on working in social networks as the main channel for obtaining information among young people. The visual style and social networks of the Blood Service of the Republic of Mordovia have become recognizable and attractive to young people.

What advantages have you discovered of such organized and collective work by detachments?

There are many benefits here. The cooperation of student teams with educational organizations, non-profit organizations and volunteer groups leads to new acquaintances, new communications, and broadening the circle of communication among young people. During the project, the COVID-19 pandemic happened, which made big adjustments to our lives, including the work of the Blood Service. Morbidity has increased, self-isolation has been introduced and, as a result, there has been a significant outflow of donors. With the onset of the pandemic, medical practitioners, as representatives of the medical community, were the first to respond to the call of the Blood Service. It was the medical students who at that moment were deeply imbued by the lack of donor blood and began to coordinate the participation of all student youth in the donor movement. The guys showed their best human qualities, showed a high level of responsibility. We are very happy and proud of our relations - kind, clean, friendly - with our volunteers!

How did you solve the issue of combining the participation in the project with their studies?

Due to the great popularity and authority of student groups, there are practically no problems with holding events. Heads of schools and universities always meet the needs of the fighters and provide comprehensive support in organizing donor campaigns. Donor students provide certificates of donation to their deans. For volunteers, if necessary, certificates of participation in the event from the Blood Service are provided. In addition, a number of agreements on cooperation between the RNO and the Mordovian Republican Blood Transfusion Station have been signed.

The drivers of youth movements are always leaders. Tell us about them.

I would like to say a special thank to the leaders. Our kind words and gratitude deserve both the leaders of the student detachments of Mordovia and all the participants. First of all, of course, is Alexei Nagin. In 2016, he headed the Mordovian regional branch of the Russian Student Teams and led it for five years. Alexey is an example for others, an ideological inspirer, a man of his word and deed, a responsible and decent organizer, a regular donor of blood and its components. Today, he has 26 donations - 18 blood, 7 plasma and 1 platelet. In November 2021, Alexei Nagin was elected to the post of commander of the Headquarters of Student Detachments of the Volga Federal District. He does not lose contact with us, remaining the Chairman of the Board of Student Detachments of Mordovia and our friend. Alexey's successor was Vladislav Dubkov, a sympathetic, serious, competent and resourceful leader. I would definitely like to mention our great friend, Viktor Gushchin, Commissioner of the Russian Student Brigade. He has 11 donations to his credit. Victor is a cheerful, active and positive person, our permanent annual station Santa Claus, event organizer and just the soul of the team.

Do any of these guys want to connect their future with blood donation, get a special medical education?

As I already mentioned, there are medical students among the RSO fighters. The rest of the guys, of course, if they wish, can change their profile to a medical one. But even if this does not happen, different people are needed in the donor movement, different people are important. Participation in the donor movement does not depend on the profession, education and financial situation. Here only philanthropy and a sincere desire to help come to the fore.

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

Dear present and potential blood donors! Have an open heart and a kind soul, go to people with a positive attitude! Popularize voluntary donation of blood and its components! Be informed and carry reliable information about donation to society, destroying all myths. Be healthy and happy!

Victor Gushchin, Commissioner of the Russian student teams:

«The desire to give blood must be sincere. One must not be forced, one must want to. I always say that if you are ready, then just take a passport and go to the transfusion station - everything will be told and explained. Personally, I give blood because it’s not difficult.».

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