By B.C. Manion
While many people have been busy in recent weeks wrapping presents with seasonal paper and decorative bows, some students and staff at Land O’ Lakes High rolled up their sleeves last week to donate a life-giving source.
They took part in the school’s blood drive, led by the Class of 2012.
Five Florida Blood Services’ bloodmobiles pulled into a space in front of the school’s gym, with students and staff dropping in to donate their blood.
It wasn’t the first time the school had conducted a blood drive. In fact, earlier this school year the high school received two awards from Florida Blood Services. It was recognized for registering the highest numbers of new donors and was recognized for collecting the most pints of blood in one day, with a total of 169 pints.
The awards are traveling honors, which go from high school to high school, and the school is extremely proud of receiving them, said Annette Noack, faculty sponsor of the Class of 2012, which leads the school’s blood donation efforts.
The class officers are very involved in the effort, Noack said. They recruit students to donate blood. They make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to serve to blood donors and also dole out bananas, doughnuts, cookies and other foods to fortify those giving blood.
Those donating blood must be 16 or older, must weigh at least 130 pounds and must eat before and after they give, Noack said.
She credits Principal Ric Mellin for making it possible for the school to get involved.
“He’s our biggest cheerleader. He is just so pumped,” she said. He’s all about involving students and in giving them advice and support, she said.
Noack is proud of the students who help make the event happen and also for those who donate their blood.
“What a beautiful legacy for these kids. Our community needs to know that there are kids who are taking time out of their day to help save lives,” Noack said. “Look at them, they’re just so amped. I’m so proud of them.”
Besides free food, donors also received a pair of boxer shorts.
Those are popular with both the girls and the boys, students said.
The event also included music and a magic performance by Doctor Thayer, who teaches mathematics at the school.
Besides helping to coordinate the event, Noack leads by example. She was among the first to board the bloodmobile to have her blood drawn.
Her son, Cheyenne who is the class treasurer, said his mother’s dedication inspired him to get involved.
“My mom — she sees a bloodmobile on the road — she just pulls in and gives blood,” he said. He admits he was a little nervous about giving blood himself. “I thought the needle they use was (the size of) a turkey baster,” he said.
He now knows he was wrong. “It wasn’t that big. It didn’t hurt at all.”
Florida Blood Services collects blood to supply local hospitals to meet the need of their patients. The blood is used to support treatments for organ transplants, open heart and other major surgeries, cancer and other disease, joint replacements, burn and accident victims.
Human blood has three components: red blood cells, plasma and platelets.
Red blood cells carry oxygen to your cells. They are given to trauma and surgery patients. They also are given to people with blood disorders, such as sickle cell disease and anemia.
Platelets control blood clotting and must be transfused within five days of donation. They are used to stop bleeding associated with surgery and cancer.
Plasma carries nutrients and clotting factors. Plasma is given to transplant recipients, newborns, organ transplant recipients and those with clotting disorders.
Donations can last anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the type of donation that donors are making.
Besides wanting to repeat their award-winning ways, the class officers leading the school blood drive efforts see greater meaning in what they are doing.
“It’s important to be involved in your community,” Rebecca Dallman, secretary for the Class of 2012. “It’s important to give blood. It’s really not that hard, It’s really convenient. I don’t see why anybody wouldn’t do it.”
“We’re saving lives. I think that is what’s most important,” said Molly Robinson, class president, who, ironically is unable to donate blood because she’s anemic.
There are some challenges, though.
Some students are afraid, some don’t meet the weight requirements and some simply forget about it.
Others don’t participate because of concerns it could interfere with athletic performances at practices or games later that day, said Angelina Bruno, class vice president.
She doesn’t think that’s a good enough reason not to donate blood.
“I think people’s lives are more important than school sports,” Bruno said.
Need a reason to donate blood?
– One donation can provide four transfusions for newborn babies.
– A small child with leukemia can need 30-40 donations.
– Accident victims can use up to 100 units of blood depending on the injury.
– Cancer patients need blood products ongoing as part of their chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
– Burn victims, in severe cases, can use 20 units during treatment.
– Ninety percent of all people who live to the age 70 will require a blood transfusion.
– Men who donate regularly reduce their risk of heart disease by 80 percent.
– On average, the Tampa area has only a three-day supply of blood for its local hospitals.
– A single donation, which takes about 30 minutes, can help save the lives of three patients.
Source: Florida Blood Services. For more information go to www.fbsblood.org or call (800) 682-5663