PIKE COUNTY - Facts about blood and what their efforts could do, were the basis for a day of learning for a group of teens this fall.
At the Pike County Training Center, officials from the American Red Cross spoke to high school students who will be hosting blood drives in their schools in coming months. The students’ work is significant for collecting blood, Alana Mauger the communications manager for the Red Cross said, because 20 percent of the Red Cross’s blood supply in the United States is collected at high schools and colleges.
The blood drives at schools, Mauger said are “critical” to meet the patient demand since a donor can donate at 16 with a parent’s consent. Or, for the students who cannot give, they are still able to help by recruiting others and promoting the drives.
Students from Delaware Valley, Honesdale, Western Wayne and East Stroudsburg North high schools spent an afternoon learning facts that include but weren’t limited to, a person has 11 pints of blood in their body or the universal blood type is O-.
Through the lesson, the students who are in clubs specific for community service, learned everything they need to know about blood and what it takes to host a drive, such as how to communicate with their peers to recruit them to donate.
To set up a blood drive, Mauger said persons interested in hosting must communicate with a donor recruitment account manager. If interested in hosting a blood drive, visit www.redcrossblood.org where there is information about who to contact to get site approval and the materials to recruit donors.
The students were freshman to seniors, which meant some weren’t eligible to donate, but Mauger noted, that doesn’t mean they cannot be involved in the planning at their schools.
June 1 through August 31 and December 15 to January 15 are “critical times” for collecting blood, according to Claudia Schroder an account representative from the Red Cross, because school is closed during the summer months or the holidays, winter weather as well as cold season hinder the ability to collect. This is problematic because the need for blood doesn’t stop, despite the amount collected lessens. The portion of blood collected through school drives, Schroder called “very significant” and that the Red Cross is “fortunate” that more than 70 schools in Northeastern Pennsylvania host drives that aren’t open to the public, but students and staff can donate.
Once the blood is collected, Schroder explained that following FDA guidelines, the blood is tested for 12 infectious diseases to ensure its safe at the Red Cross’s national testing lab.
Blood is more than blood, since different components of the blood is sought more than others. Such is the case with power reds, which are known as double red cells. Schroder told the students that the power red donation allows more donors to give twice the number of red packed cells, which are then returned back to the donor. The red cells are actually the component in the blood used the most for surgery and trauma.
Before a person can donate, Schroder said it’s important that donors are following “healthy habits” by drinking fluids, eating foods with iron and getting a good night sleep. As well, there is a height and weight requirement since adults have 10 to 12 pints of blood in their system and teens 16 to 17 years old don’t have as much.
A few of the facts shared during the program, were that every donation can save up to three lives or the most effective way to recruit donors is asking people face to face, since it would be harder to say no to someone in person.
Additional facts were shared, that only 38 percent of the population is eligible to donate, whereas everyone can volunteer and help in some form. Social media is a great resource Mauger told the students, because its where their peers can be found and all the information they need about donating, or hosting a blood drive can be found on the American Red Cross’s free donor app, that can be found from any app store. For more information about the app visit: https://www.redcrossblood.org/blood-donor-app.html.
Schroder said the program was a success because several students already committed to helping, since they are “focused” on collecting at least 25 pints of blood.
A junior at Delaware Valley High School, Alyssa Freymuth who plans on going into nursing, said she was excited to learn about the Red Cross and what it takes to host a blood drive, because she likes giving back to her community while also helping others.
Elizabeth Dillion, a senior at DV said participating in the day was important because every donation saves three lives and so, she wants to ensure others are aware why they should donate. One thing Dillion learned was, what’s in a blood cell because there are different parts of blood she said.
A Healthcare Career Teacher in the Career and Tech Department at DV, Barb Coyle said the students present were members of HOSA, the future health professional national organization for high school and college students planning on entering the medical field. At DV every year, there are two blood drives, one happening January 30 and the other at the end of April where they will have a goal to collect and in the past, Coyle said the students have been close. The biggest challenge though, is recruiting other students and so, those involved go into the cafeteria, moving table to table to encourage their peers to sign up.
Since she entered high school at DV, Meghan Dewey has participated in blood drives at the school because she plans on working in the healthcare field. Dewey too, said the participation is about giving back to her community, but she has family who has needed blood and so, she knows how blood donations can make a difference.
For more information about the American Red Cross and blood donation, visit www.redcrossblood.org.