October Blood Drive: Record-Breaking Results

Leesville’s partnership blood drive with the American Red Cross was a resounding success, breaking last spring’s record collection by collecting 103 units of blood as well as introducing 89 novice blood donors into a possible lifelong commitment. 

“I donated for the first time in high school,” said Tanya Eastman, another faculty member who helped organize the October 2 drive, “and I’ve given blood every year since.”

In a blood drive, there are usually two possible types of donation: double red cell (DRC) donation, which comes with its own separate requirements, and whole blood (WB) donation, the customary method. 

In the same way each form of donation comes will contribute to saving someone’s life, each type enjoys certain privileges that balance out the other:  while DRC donors have the benefit of dealing with a smaller needle, WB donors enjoy a shorter donation process. 

 Whole blood donors, meaning those contributing red cells, white cells, platelets, and plasma altogether, can give up to 1 unit, or pint, of blood.  Conversely, DRC donors, who through a special process called aphaeresis are able to donate just their red blood cells, can give up to 2 units of blood. 

Overall, the October drive underwent a total of 85 WB and 23 DRC donations, a hopeful indication that Leesville students are becoming more actively willing to donate blood and aid the Red Cross’ efforts.

“I’m definitely be donating again,” said Erika Martinez, senior, a first-time blood donor and the ninth person to donate at the October 2 drive.

Martinez undertook her contribution seriously, preparing for her donation by having a big breakfast and periodically drinking from her water bottle throughout the day.

“At first I was kind of nervous,” said Martinez, “but knowing that it was the American Red Cross and that it was for a good cause, I knew giving blood was something I wanted to do.  The volunteers were really nice and they helped to calm and comfort me.”

Approximately 25 Red Cross workers, along with the assistance of 25 Leesville student volunteers, monitored the event, devoting special attention to students after they donated.

In the interest of efficiency, the auxiliary gym was divided into stations: registration, the donation area, and the cantina, where students received refreshments after donating.  After giving blood, donors were required to sit in the cantina for ten minutes before they returned to class to ensure students did not react negatively to the process.

“We want you to be okay,” said Ebony Smith, the Red Cross aid who supervised the cantina.  “Your body is weakened when you give blood so we make sure that they [donors] have something to eat and drink so they can handle the strain.”

Michelle Viscount, senior, stayed with a friend who appeared pale after giving blood.  Señor Ross, one of the faculty who supervised the event, kept an alert eye on Tesoriero and, after she began to feel dizzy, Ross assisted her onto a mat to recline on for five minutes.

Fortunately, such incidents are rare during Leesville drives, and there are always several individuals prepared to quickly do what’s necessary to ease a donor’s distress.

“I feel great,” said Morgan Papanestor, junior, the last donor of the drive. “I was kind of scared at first but when it was my turn, I just didn’t look.  If I had, I definitely would not have been able to do it. [But] I’m glad I did.”

The 103 units of blood Leesville collected this October have the potential to save over 300 lives.  That drive was only the first of two drives Leesville intends to host within the 2009-2010 school year.  If 117 Leesville students volunteered to donate at the beginning of the year, imagine the turnout Leesville could achieve at the spring drive on March 19.  Better yet, imagine the number of lives Leesville contributors will have helped save by the end of the year.

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