By: Jacqueline Kloos
The Red Cross reports that it collects 6.5 million units of blood annually – enough to fill 13 Olympic-sized swimming pools – and North students and staff have the ability to contribute to this staggering statistic from the convenience of their school.
Dr. Richard Kloos, endocrinologist and Westerville resident, summarizes blood donation as “life saving.”Blood is vital because the hemoglobin it contains carries oxygen molecules to bodily tissues. A sampling of conditions that may require blood transfusions are excessive bleeding, symptomatic severe anemia, cancer, disease of red blood cell production and disease of red blood cell destruction.
The Red Cross distributes approximately 9 million blood products a year to around 3,000 hospitals and transfusion facilities nationwide. In the Central Ohio Region alone, 41 hospitals receive blood collected by the Red Cross. In the same area, 196,532 units were collected from mid 2012 to mid 2013. Of those, 19,168 units were collected through high school blood drives.
“Twenty percent of the blood collected in the United States is donated by college and high school students. Today’s students are the future ambassadors of America’s blood supply,” said Megan Hartley, American Red Cross marketing program manager. “So many people are helped by blood transfusions every day because of generous blood donors who take an hour to roll up their sleeve and help others,” Hartley added.
North has three blood drives during the school year with the goal of about 100 units per drive. Most donors give one unit of blood, less than a pint, which can be broken up by the Red Cross into three parts: red cells, platelets, and plasma. While the entire registration and waiting process can take roughly an hour, senior and student council blood drive director Abby Engelhart said the actual blood collection typically takes no more than eight minutes. To prepare for donation, simple steps must be taken.
“Students should know the importance of a good breakfast. Drinking plenty of water the day before and day of donating is essential,” former Student Council Advisor Sally Tourville said.
Junior Grant Eberst has donated at North. He said, “The entire process took around 45 minutes from start to finish.” Eberst noted that the only discomfort he experienced was the initial pinch, and he said he will “definitely” donate again.
Whole blood donors can donate every eight weeks. “People should remember that it’s more than a once-a-year event. It’s important to be a regular donor,” Kloos said.
Staff members and students at least 16 years of age should keep an eye out for November blood drive sign-ups in the front lobby.