|Phlebotomist Leah Aranda attends to Quincy High School junior Jennifer Macias, who is donating for the second time ever. She said she donated because she “felt like being a nice person.” Photo by Laura Beaton|
Donating blood may be one of the most generous acts one human can do for another.
For many high school students who participated in the Service Club blood drive Nov. 27, it was the first time they could legally donate their lifeblood.
Quincy High School held one of its thrice-yearly blood drives in its small gym last Tuesday.
According to Jan McKee, United Blood Services of Reno’s donor recruitment representative, the blood drive surpassed expectations, with 37 students giving blood.
S-Club advisor Nicole Yoacham credits the five S-Club officers for its success: Natalie Kepple, Kyle Morgan, Isabella Brandes, Kendal Hicks and Ava Hagwood.
Students took time out from their elective classes to donate, and received a T-shirt and a sense of fulfillment in knowing that their blood helps saves lives in return.
UBS phlebotomists skillfully drew blood from donors who were often nervous, but always willing.
Blood donations save lives
Each unit of donated blood can potentially save three lives, according to McKee. And like that of many blood banks, Reno’s need for blood products usually increases during holidays and wintertime, making this drive particularly important.
McKee notes that it is not just accident victims who need blood; many others need it for surgeries, transfusions and other medical procedures.
“High school donors are extremely important,” McKee said, “because they are 22 percent of our total blood draw. So many of our regular donors donated for the first time in high school.”
McKee said she has partnered with QHS and the S-Club for nine years: as long as she has been working at the Reno blood bank.
Other S-Club projects
The blood drive is only one of many service projects the S-Club tackles, according to advisor Yoacham.
“Our goal is to take on projects that benefit the community,” she said. In addition to providing safety monitors for events such as Safe Trick or Treat, the club recently hosted a Thanksgiving Day community dinner at the high school.
The event was co-sponsored by Soroptimist International of Quincy, which donated food for the dinner that about 60 community members enjoyed.
The S-Club has a couple of upcoming events scheduled, including judging a door decorating contest at the county courthouse and acting as Santa’s elves at the Sparkle event Dec. 7 in Quincy.
Another upcoming event that Yoacham’s culinary arts students, many of them S-Club members, will take part in is a gingerbread house display at the Wassail Bowl on Dec. 14.
Helping other people
Sophomore Shannia Barnes summed up what most students answered when asked why they were donating blood: “I want to help people.”
Barnes, a member of the QHS basketball team, even sacrificed basketball practice that afternoon, as students are advised by UBS to take it easy and not exercise strenuously after donating.
LDS quarterly blood drives
Another organization McKee partners with is the Church of Latter-day Saints in Quincy, which sponsors four donations yearly under the oversight of Judy Wright.
Its most recent drive occurred yesterday, Dec. 4.
Wright, a retired personnel specialist at Plumas Unified School District, took over management of the quarterly blood drives in Quincy from Connie Garrish about 12 years ago.
Wright credits friend Susan Christensen with boosting the productivity of the blood drives in the last five to six years by getting the word out to service groups, organizations, businesses and the community.
Christensen sends email notifications and posts fliers advertising the blood drives, while Wright makes phone calls reminding donors of their appointment times, calls regular donors to see if they want to schedule an appointment, and also posts fliers.
Wright recalled that the first time she donated blood was in the high school’s library some 30 years ago. She said she was inspired by one of her sons, who told her he had just donated blood.
Since then, Wright has been an active blood donor. She began helping Garrish run the blood drives in the ’90s, when she became a hospital volunteer.
She estimates that 70 – 80 donors give blood at each drive. Donors range in age from 16, the minimum age allowed, into their 80s. “Easily a third to a half of our donors are retired,” she said.
“I think it’s an extremely important service that people do. It’s a very unselfish thing — to donate their own blood without knowing who it’s going to.
“That’s why I keep doing it,” Wright explained. She spends many hours planning and organizing each blood drive.
In addition to securing the church facilities, she coordinates volunteer efforts by church and community members who bake cookies and treats and also provide water and juice for donors.
She said she makes sure that the facility offers blood bank technicians everything they need to keep each drive running smoothly and efficiently.
Wright oversees the entire operation, which takes at least eight hours from when the workers from Reno arrive to when they leave.
United Blood Services
United Blood Services of Reno is a nonprofit community blood center that provides blood and blood products for local area hospitals throughout the U.S.
UBS exists “to make a difference in people’s lives by bringing together the best people, inspiring individuals to donate blood, producing a safe and ample blood supply, advancing cutting-edge research and embracing continuous quality improvement,” according to its website, unitedbloodservices.org.
UBS provides services to patients in more than 500 hospitals in 18 states. More than 25 million people depend on UBS’ volunteer blood donors and their staff to make sure blood is available when and where it is needed.
UBS rep McKee said that donations from Plumas County have diminished in the past couple of years, making the county’s blood drives even more valuable.
To learn more about donating blood, go to the UBS website or call 800-696-4484.
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