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206 Ida Baker High students donate blood for Lee Memorial

By Staff | Sep 5, 2011

Ida S. Baker High School was the second high school in the Lee County School District to invite two Lee Memorial Blood Mobile buses to its campus to provide students with the opportunity to donate their blood.

The 2011-2012 school year kicked off with the first school blood drive at Dunbar High School last week, which collected 73 units of blood from 97 students.

Ida Baker was the second high school on the blood drive list for Wednesday and Thursday last week. A total of 206 students donated 181 units of blood during the two day blood drive.

Assistant Principal Doug Palow said they used to have the Florida Blood Center and Lee Memorial Blood Center both visit their campus twice a year to give the students an opportunity to donate their blood.

Due to the partnership that Ida Baker has with the Lee Memorial Health System for its medical academy, Palow said they decided to solely have the school blood drives through Lee Memorial.

He said it is good to have the Lee Memorial Blood Mobile visit the campus because it brings awareness to the students of what kind of a difference they can make by donating their blood. In addition, Palow said, it also gives students the opportunity to be awarded scholarships by donating their blood.

Two years ago, Lee Memorial Health System allocated money for a scholarship fund to give to high school seniors who donate blood.

Last year Lee Memorial Health System provided more than $54,500 in scholarship funds to the participating high schools, which was an increase of $17,500 from the previous year. Fifteen high schools participated in the blood drive last year.

The scholarship tiers consists of donations from one to 50 units for $200 to $8,200 for 801-1,000 units of blood donated.

Cape Coral High School and Ida Baker High School earned a $6,000 scholarship for donating between 501-650 units of blood last year and Mariner High School earned a $2,600 scholarship for donating 251-375 units of blood.

The purple buses will stop at the Ida Baker campus three more times this year, which amounts to once a quarter. In November students will have an opportunity to donate their blood again.

Lee Memorial Blood Center Com-munity Relations Director Nancy Hendrick said the kids who come out are saving people’s lives and they are a crucial part of the yearly blood drives.

She said they began an incentive for students who donate their blood four times to increase participation. Hendrick said students will receive a dog tag that states what blood type they are after the fourth time.

High school student blood donations make up 34 percent of the annual collections for Lee Memorial Health System.

Thursday’s blood drive brought out familiar faces, along with first-time students who have never donated their blood before.

Seniors Ryan McGregor and David Torres began donating their blood their freshman year and hope to donate 10 times before they graduate in the spring.

McGregor said he cannot wait to receive his pin at the end of the school year for donating a gallon of blood.

He donated his blood for the seventh time on Thursday. McGregor said he began donating because of the free food they provide, along with the chance to get out of class.

Torres agreed that he began donating because of the food he can consume after the donation is complete.

Although food and getting out of class is at the top of their list, McGregor said he knows that he is helping someone by donating his blood.

“I know if someone gets hurt or something happens, I know it is helping them,” McGregor said about his blood donation.

Torres agreed that donating his blood was bigger than just receiving free food.

“I get to help people,” he said. “Who doesn’t want to save a life?”

After McGregor graduates he said he is uncertain if the blood donations will continue.

“If I drive past a place and see the bus I might stop, but won’t go out of my way,” he said.

Torres said he will continue to donate his blood after high school because of the great experience he has had donating his blood at school.

“They make you feel comfortable and they joke around with you,” he said. The experience also taught him about the different types of blood and how it helps everyone.

Junior Diana Gurevich, on the other hand, decided to donate blood for the first time on Thursday because she wanted to experience what it was like. She said it was an interest of hers that she wanted to try

“It was for a good cause,” she said. “You save lives.”

When the needle first went into her arm, she said it was a bit of a shocker, but the feeling subsided once she stopped shaking.

“The music helped,” she said while donating her blood.

Gurevich said she hopes to donate blood again in November if she does not talk herself out of it beforehand.

Gurevich is apart of the medical academy and criminal justice academy at Ida Baker. She said she wants to become a surgeon, so donating blood was a test for herself to see if she was going into the right career.

Last year’s Lee Memorial school blood drives collected 5,410 blood donations from 7,115 students 16 and older and faculty members during the school year. A handful of the schools held up to four blood drives during the school year and some students donated a gallon, or eight units, of blood before they graduated.

More than 11,000 patients received the benefits from the high school blood drive last year, since one unit of blood has the potential of saving more than one life. The blood donated on the Lee Memorial Bloodmobiles remains in the community.