One prick saves lives

Blood vials sit in a rack in the middle of the room. The red-capped vials were used more frequently, as they have no additive. However, the purple vials contain anticoagulants used for people prone to blood clots. “Carter BloodCare is the one that draws the blood. They bring in their lobotomist and their medical screener, and they handle that aspect of [the blood drive,]” Health Science teacher Lori Lewis said. With all of HOSA’s help, the event ran smoothly.

Last semester, Rock Hill High School’s Health Occupations Students of America partnered with Carter BloodCare to organize a blood drive in the LGI. This semester, on Feb. 23, HOSA invites students and staff to donate a pint of blood as long as they meet these few requirements:

  1. The donor must be at least 16 years old. Ages 17 and above can donate freely, but 16-year-olds must have a consent form signed by a parent or guardian.
  2. The donor must be at least 110 pounds.
  3. The donor must be in good health, showing no symptoms of COVID-19.

Established during the opening of the school, which just so happened to be in the wake of a health crisis, the Rock Hill HOSA group has grown exponentially–as do their hopes of accomplishments.

The demand for blood is greater than ever, yet hospitals are receiving less and less. Fear of donating blood is not new, but the pandemic has inflated the issue.

“Right now, we’re at a really critical time with having a nationwide blood shortage, even in the Dallas Forth area,” Lori Lewis said, who is a science teacher, registered nurse and one of the three HOSA sponsors that administer the blood drives. “We have a pretty critical need for blood right now. It’s just very low,” Lewis said.

Due to cancellations of blood drives themselves and the lack of donors amid the pandemic, those in need have no choice but to wait. Though the answer is simple; donation, it won’t be easy. However, blue Hawks stepped up last semester and accepted the challenge.

“We had 83 donors and 78 successful donations,” Lewis said, “that just means the rest either didn’t get enough blood [drawn] or something happened where they weren’t able to donate.”

The number of donations exceeded the expectations of Carter BloodCare and the previous number of donors during the 2020-2021 school year.

Even if a donation is ineligible, a box sits near the door labeled ‘snacks for heroes,’ making sure that every person who is willing to donate knows that they are appreciated. After having their blood drawn, HOSA members escorted donors out of the clinic chairs and cared for them. HOSA members provided each donor with a choice of snack and drink.

Donations are the same as last semester, starting at 8:30 a.m. and going until 3 p.m. History teacher AJ Lanier decided to donate in the morning.

“It was the one time when I was actually able to donate. I don’t always have enough time. Plus, I got two packages of cookies,” Lanier said. “So I’m not mad about it.”

The goal is to give everyone the chance to donate, and with such a long donation window possible, students and staff can donate, even with their busy schedules.

“Carter BloodCare is the one that sets our goal each time, so I imagine they’re going to increase it from 64. I don’t know exactly what they have planned, but I think we can get more people to come in and donate,” Lewis said.

“I’m so scared I’m going to pass out. So, [HOSA members] told me to eat something,” senior and NHS president Alex Vincent said, explaining that she was going to give blood regardless of her fear. “My friend dragged me here. We’re seniors, and we’re trying to get the cord for graduation,” he said.

In addition to the standard blue cord worn by Rock Hill graduates, a red cord is awarded to students that give blood at least twice during their high school career. But it’s not just about the cord. Instead, honor is instilled in the cord–showcasing to others a desire to give.

“Each donation can save up to three adult lives and even more pediatric lives because they don’t get as much blood volume with each donation. So I think it’s up to seven children that can be potentially saved by just one donation,” Lewis said, urging Blue Hawks to move past their fear and give back to the community.