By Curt Yeomans
American Red Cross Donor Recruitment Representative Terrill Cooper tried to ease the fears of a group of Mundy's Mill High School juniors preparing to give blood for the first time, by talking about how the blood could be used.
"You all know you're saving a life," Cooper said.
Aaron Jones, 16, looked up from the donor form he was filling out, and countered Cooper's encouragement. "Hey, I'm not scared," he said.
Nearly 100 of Mundy's Mill's students, teachers, staff, and parents lined up to give blood during the second of two blood drives held each year by the school's Health Occupation Students of America chapter.
Chapter President Aesha Nichols, 17, said the other blood drive is held each fall.
"It gives us an opportunity to make sure we really do want to go into this profession, and we get to help other students by giving them an opportunity to save another person's life," Nichols said.
The Red Cross prefers to have a three-day supply of each blood type, but currently, there is a one-day supply, or less, for several of them.
Any student who was 16 years old, or older, was allowed to donate blood as long as they met requirements dealing with travel, body art, health, and body weight.
Donor representative Cooper said one pint of blood can be used to save the life of three people because human blood contains red blood cells, plasma and platelets, which control bleeding and can be used to treat cancer and blood disorders. The three parts of the blood are separated by technicians at a Red Cross facility after a blood drive takes place, Cooper said.
While Cooper said high school blood drives typically attract several first-time donors, it was not a new experience for some Mundy's Mill students.
"Earlier this school year, I gave blood for the first time, and I'd say it seemed quicker and smoother than my first experience, but I'm glad to do it," senior Kimberly Lozano, 18, said. "I ate before I gave blood this time because I knew what to expect. The unknown kind of freaks me out ... The benefit for me is to know I contributed, that I may have saved a life."
Blood drive officials put a wet towel over Lozano's forehead and gave her a cup of crushed ice to consume as they prepared to remove the needle and tube from her arm. She was also given a small bottle of juice to drink, and after taking a sip, she looked up at Mobile Unit Technician Tony Kent and said "That's some good juice."
First-time donor junior Pierre Bowles, 17, sat at the registration desk with his left arm stretched out while he rapidly tapped the inside of his elbow with his registration folder. "I'm nervous," he said. "My arm is tingling, I guess because I'm nervous that a needle is about to be put in my arm."
Senior Andrew Hall, 18, another first-time blood donor, laid back in a reclining chair while he squeezed a foam block to make his blood flow faster. He occasionally sipped juice from a bottle while he waited for the bag to fill.
Hall said he decided to donate blood after a classmate told him of the blood drive one day in a school hallway between classes. "I figured I might as well give back since I'm healthy," he said. "I won't do it again though. My veins are too small."
The Red Cross has several more blood drives scheduled in Clayton County this month. Future dates and locations are:
· April 15, from 10 a.m., to 3 p.m., in the lobby of Clayton State University's Athletics and Fitness Center, which is on the university's campus in Morrow.
· April 17, from 11 a.m., to 4 p.m., at Southern Regional Medical Center, 11 Upper Riverdale Road, Riverdale.
· April 28, from 10 a.m., to 3 p.m., at the Clayton County Police Department, 7911 North McDonough Street, Jonesboro, and at the Clayton County Sheriff's Office, 9157 Tara Blvd., Jonesboro.
A person must weigh at least 110 pounds to give blood. People who cannot donate blood are individuals who have a tattoo, have been treated for cancer, received a blood transfusion, or had an open wound that was exposed to bodily fluids within the last year.
A woman who delivered a baby within the last six weeks cannot give blood either, and a six-month deferral period is in place for anyone who has recently had a blood clot, or a heart condition. People who recently had a cold, flu, or sore throat, or are taking antibiotics, cannot give blood until their symptoms subside.
Travel restrictions for potential donors include: anyone who spent three or more months in the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Italy or Greece between Jan. 1, 1980, and Dec. 31, 1996; six or more months in Belgium, the Netherlands or Germany between Jan. 1, 1980, and Dec. 31, 1990, or five or more years in western or eastern Europe since 1980.
Anyone who traveled to 30 other countries, mostly in Africa, within the last year will also be deferred, according to a Red Cross donor eligibility brochure. People who were born in, lived in, or received a blood transfusion in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger, or Nigeria after 1977 are on an indefinite deferment list for giving blood.
For more information about Red Cross blood drives, call 1-800-448-3543.
On the net:
American Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/