Less than 1 percent of your body weight can help three people.
In high school, teens are often told that they have the power to impact their community. But this sentiment may seem difficult to act on for many teens. Some may wonder how his or her contribution could significantly affect a great number of people. This spring, however, I was part of an event that involved students at City Honors School and benefited people throughout Western New York.
At City Honors (and many other high schools in Western New York), we have a Donate Life Club, which stems from UNYTS (formerly Upstate New York Transplant Services). Our goal is to raise awareness among teens about organ, tissue and blood donation. To accomplish this, every year at City Honors we participate in a variety of activities, including the organization of a campaign week during which students win prizes by answering trivia questions about donating.
Besides educating students, an important event each spring at City Honors is the blood drive. This year’s drive took place in April and all seniors were given the opportunity to donate blood. By the day of the drive, about 50 seniors (nearly half the class) had signed up.
I was this year’s student coordinator, and it was an amazing experience. I helped collect the names of all seniors who planned to donate blood, and the time of the day they were donating. As a part of this process, I explained to many seniors what the blood donation process would be like. I also worked with City Honors teachers who were helping to organize the blood drive.
My job as student coordinator required some serious effort. As I surveyed my senior class for potential donors I made documents to organize each senior by homeroom and time of donation. I also passed out reminder cards the day before the event.
The other members of the City Honors Donate Life Club also helped to make the blood drive a success. Several members of the club sat in on the blood drive at various times throughout the day to ensure that the donation room did not become congested.
Although it may seem scary at first, donating blood is ultimately rewarding. One of the seniors who donated is Lily Dixon, who also is a member of the Donate Life Club.
“Donating blood was an exciting experience and I hope to do it again soon,” she said.
Because red blood cells are replenished in four to six weeks, blood donors can make a donation every eight weeks, so Lily can donate again relatively soon.
After donating blood, donors may snack on a wide variety of cookies and drinks. For teens, this can help assuage any apprehensions.
Ricki Chen, another senior and member of the Donate Life Club, remembers feeling anxious before donating.
“I was nervous at first, but the staff was very attentive,” Ricki said. “Afterward, I also got to enjoy great snacks and the knowledge that I had saved lives with my donation.”
Since donors are encouraged to drink more fluids and eat a healthy diet after donating blood, the snacks are not only a reward but a good jump-start to achieving that goal.
Although a student’s donation of blood may seem a small contribution, one pint of blood can help up to three people. Also, all blood collected by UNYTS stays in Western New York, thus ensuring that just one student can help his or her community.
Tracy Werick is a senior at City Honors.