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Student blood drives integral part of local donations success

By Staff | Apr 9, 2011

Cape Coral High School has participated in the Lee Memorial Health System Bloodmobile drive for the past eight years with the amount of student interests growing each year.
Community Relations Director of Lee Memorial Blood Center Nancy Hendrick said 92 students from Cape Coral High School participated in the blood drive on Wednesday with 78 units of blood drawn. On Thursday, 121 students participated in the blood drive with 102 units of blood drawn. On Friday 106 students participated with 88 units of blood drawn.
The three-day total for Cape High students was 268 units of blood by 319 donors.
“The students are the most important,” Hendrick said, adding they make up 30 percent of the total blood donations for Lee Memorial Health System.
Lee Memorial Blood Center Donor Recruiter Joyce Slaughter said the blood mobile educates the students and encourages them to continue donating blood once they are in college. She said they strive to make it a pleasant experience for the students by explaining the process.
This year, Cape High School added an additional day due to the number of students who were interested in donating, Slaughter said. They added the third day so the students were not gone from their classes for as long.
Previously, the blood mobile spent two days at Cape High twice a year. Slaughter said last year Cape High donated a total of 479 units. One individual donates one unit of blood.
Two days before the blood drive takes place at one of the high schools in Lee County, Slaughter goes to the school and informs the students that the drive will be taking place and encourages them to sign up for one of the days it will be there.
First-time donors have to bring a signed permission slip with them before their blood is taken. A photo ID is also recommended if the student has one.
The students were encouraged to eat a good meal the day before they donated blood and the morning of. Pop Tarts, crackers, breakfast bars, Rice Crispy Treats, cheese and pepperoni pizza, juice, water and soda were available for the students when they donated.
Hendrick said 75 percent of Lee Memorial Health System’s blood donations comes from the blood mobile drive that runs seven days a week to maintain the needed 500 units of blood a week.
Larry Gary, physical education teacher and football and track coach at Cape High, said whenever he gets the opportunity to donate blood he does. He said he has already donated “gallons” of blood.
“It is a gratifying thing, period,” he said. “We are trying to save lives because there is a desperate need for blood.”
After the students donate their blood four times — which is equivalent to a half gallon — they receive a dog tag.
Sophomore Brett Cochrane was one of the Cape High students to receive the dog tag because he made his fifth donation Thursday morning. His first donation was last winter. The idea of donating blood occurred to him after he saw a commercial on television that showed a little girl walking into a board room saying thank you for donating.
“I won’t stop (donating blood) until they take the last drop out of me,” Cochrane said.
Although donating blood is a scary experience for junior Domenique Santagata she decided to donate for the second time on Thursday. She said she will continue to donate because she knows that she “is saving a life.”
Junior Lindsey Wagner decided to donate blood after her sister told her about it. She said so far she has donated three times.
“Knowing that I am helping someone else,” Wagner said, will keep her donating.
Last year, Lee Memorial Health System allocated money for a scholarship fund to give to high school seniors who donate blood. Hendrick said the amount of scholarship funds is determined by how many units of blood a school donates.
The recipient of the scholarship is determined by the school.
The scholarship tiers consists of donations from one to 50 units for $200 in scholarship funds to $8,200 for 801-1,000 units of blood donated.
Last year, 15 high schools participated in the bloodmobile drive and donated 4,319 units of blood for the Lee Memorial Health System.
More than $37,000 was awarded in scholarship funds to seniors at the participating high schools.
Cape Coral High School’s three-day blood drive this week and another in October brought out 637 donors for a total of 531 units, qualifying the school for the $6,000 scholarship tier.
To be considered for the scholarship they had to donate between 501-650 units of blood.
“Yes, they made their goal and will receive the $6,000 scholarship money,” Hendrick said.