Blood Drive Returns for the First Time After Covid

3 mins read

On February 14th, Leadership partnered with the Stanford Blood Center to host its first blood drive since the pandemic. More than 100 students came to the PAC Café between first and seventh periods. At any given time, students were volunteering, waiting for their donation, getting blood drawn, or resting after the procedure. 

In order to donate, students had to be at least 16 years old and meet the weight requirements. Following the donation, students were required to stay 15 minutes in the cafeteria and were provided snacks and drinks to restore their electrolytes and blood sugar. 

Students waiting to donate

Most students passed the test for medical history, where medical professionals would take blood pressure, pulse, temperature, a drop of blood to test the donor’s hemoglobin level, and medical history from a questionnaire to ensure the safety of the process. However, some students were turned down. Junior Abbie MacLeod was turned down because her iron levels were too low. She said, “I’m actually quite bummed out. I didn’t know how excited I was.” Other students were turned away because the donation center was at maximum capacity.

According to the Stanford Blood Center, each donation takes about 5-10 minutes and takes out one pint of blood. The needle is sterile and discarded after every donation in order to prevent contamination. 

Junior Izzy Zohar said, “The process was much easier than I expected. It didn’t hurt. You just sit in the chair and relax for a couple of minutes, and then it’s over.” 

Many students experienced their first-ever blood drive and were inspired to continue donating. Senior Melvyn Depeyrot said, “I’m probably going to keep doing it in the future, maybe in another year or so.” 

Leadership students check students in and prepare goodie bags.

Leadership students juniors Nicole Nieva, Finn Gallo, and Miller Scott organized the blood drive as a committee. Nieva said, “We hit a max of 75 appointments that we can take in a day, but we received 120 signups. It’s difficult to manage all those people into a spreadsheet, [consider] their preferred periods, figure out a time that works for them and then excuse them from class. It takes a lot of tedious work.” 

Nieva credits Monica Doleshel-Aguirre, the Account Manager for the Stanford Blood Center for helping coordinate the event. 

Stanford Blood Center staff member prepares materials before drawing blood.

Doleshel-Aguirre explained that the blood donated stays in the community, going to the Stanford Medical Center and Lucile-Packard Hospital. In addition, she explained, “The Stanford Blood Center prides itself on not throwing any of the blood away.” Blood that is not eligible for transfusion is sent to Stanford students for research. The blood that is eligible for transfusion is separated into red cells, plasma platelets, and white cells, as transfusion patients have different needs. She added that three lives could be saved from transfusion and one through research.

Doleshel-Aguirre said, “There’s nothing that has the importance of a blood drive because donors are truly saving lives. If blood centers did not collect blood, patients would be dying, because there’s no substitute. Every two seconds, somebody needs a blood transfusion.” 

“Every two seconds, somebody needs a blood transfusion.”

Monica Doleshel-Aguirre, Stanford Blood Center Account Manager

According to Doleshel-Aguirre, the biggest challenge blood centers face is getting young people to become regular donors. She said, “Typically, most 16 to 35-year-olds have never known anybody who has needed a blood transfusion. People who have personally been affected can be your best advocates, regardless of age. What really brings awareness to blood centers is, unfortunately, catastrophes, where there are people who are injured and are going to need a blood transfusion. Then people go, ‘Oh, wow, maybe I should [donate blood].’ But most of the 16 to 35 age group have not even experienced anything dramatic like that.” 

She added that another obstacle to donating blood for all age groups is a fear of needles. However, she believes that it is important to understand the need for blood drives, saying, “It could be a [premature baby] that is going to be receiving blood or somebody their own age. To us, a life is a life.” 

About the most rewarding part of this drive, Nieva said, “It would definitely be saving lots of lives and also seeing the M-A community come together. I was really shocked to see that so many high schoolers are willing to take the time out of their school day to donate.” 

Students check in.

Nieva is hopeful about the future of the blood drive and plans to bring it back next year. She said, “Next year, we want to make it bigger, and we want more time to plan. I definitely want to reach out to the outside community, not just high schoolers but also parents, [to reduce] the issue of getting deferred for low iron or weight.” 

Doleshel-Aguirre reminded students to promote blood donations, saying, “We’ll continue this partnership. We are depending on you guys to [recognize] the importance of becoming a regular donor. Even during the summer, all these students could go to any of our centers and donate.” 

There are multiple donation centers in the area, including centers in Menlo Park, Mountain View, and Campbell. For more information on getting involved with blood donations, visit the Stanford Blood Center’s website.

Jolene is a senior at M-A and this is her second year in journalism. She looks forward to writing more opinion pieces about controversial topics this year. In her free time, she enjoys running track and listening to music.

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