Blood donation has always been an aspect of service and giving back that I feel personally connected to, as the results of these donations hit close to home. In 1996, my sister was born prematurely, and among various procedures and measures taken to save her life, she required multiple blood transfusions. Without the kindness and selflessness of my sister’s donors, she likely would not have made it through the operations. Given all of this, I learned from a young age how important and impactful blood donation is.
On November 14th, Belmont Hill hosted its 13th annual Kraft Blood Drive. From students to teachers to faculty to parents, there were 27 donors processed throughout the day. Of those 27 donors, 11 of them were new donors to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham and Women’s Hospital donation system. Unfortunately some of the generous potential donors were unable to give, whether due to sickness or another issue, but ultimately 23 pints of blood were donated, including three known O positive, one known O negative (the universal donor blood type), and a variety of other blood types, all of which were equally important and valuable to their eventual recipients. From the 23 pints of blood donated, 46 patients can benefit. Last school year, during the February Blood Drive, only 12 pints were collected.
Although November’s 23 pints improves upon February’s, both numbers leave room for improvement. About 120 prospective donors from the Upper School were eligible to give last month (17 or over and weighing more than 110 pounds), yet only 13 did. There are many excuses for not donating blood: having sports practice later in the day, missing a class, not having enough time, or being fearful of the false notion that donation is a painful and draining ordeal. These excuses, however, seem pretty trivial in comparison to the incredible impact a blood transfusion can have on another person’s life. Giving blood is quick, not very painful, and if you prepare yourself correctly, should have a minimal impact on how you feel afterward: a few snacks from the kind nurses rejuvenates your blood sugar levels, making you feel as good as you did when you walked into the donation vehicle. When talking to those who gave, the response was unanimous. First-time blood donor Jared Stier ‘18 found the process extremely straightforward: “As it was my first time giving blood, I was slightly nervous, but the nurses were very nice, and it ended up being a very easy process.” John Markis ‘18, a second-time donor explained, “As someone who cringes at the sight of a needle, I was apprehensive about giving blood initially; however, the process was quick, straightforward, and pain-free. Teachers are more than happy to permit students to miss a class, and I did not have to miss any practices due to the school-wide mud week.”
“[Many are] fearful of the false notion that donation is a painful and draining ordeal. These excuses, however, seem pretty trivial in comparison to the incredible impact a blood transfusion can have on another person’s life.”
It is important for us to come together as a community to perform service, and especially to give blood. Together, we can pool our collective efforts; relatively simple actions can make an enormous impact on those in need. I know that there are many patients out there, patients like my sister, who require the generosity of others to survive, and we can take advantage of our privileges to support these people’s lives. The second-semester blood drive is scheduled for Tuesday, February 27th, 2018, so consider helping others less fortunate than you, and, when the time rolls around, give blood. One day, you, or maybe a loved one, may need a blood transfusion, and you will be relieved, just like my parents were, to know that there is someone out there generous enough to donate their time and blood for a patient in need. I challenge those who are eligible to be one of those courageous souls by spending time giving blood, and, as the nurses say, “saving a life.”