High school blood donors get an early start

September 27, 2013 at 2:02 pm

By Dayna Kerecman Myers

Wilcox High School students

Wilcox High School student blood drive volunteers

A whole blood donor who donates as often as possible (approximately once every eight weeks) might take more than 16 years to reach 100 donations. And yet, a donor who begins in high school and commits to donating regularly could reach 350 or more whole blood donations over their lifetime. A number of exceptional Stanford Blood Center (SBC) high school donors are getting in the habit early enough to make this an attainable goal.

Our high school donors are our youngest donors, but many are also our most dedicated. SBC Account Manager Monica Doleshel-Aguirre, who has helped to coordinate many of our high school drives, has seen their dedication up close. She commented, “Our world sometimes seems to concentrate on the negative more than the positive. And yet, in our high school donors we see a group of inspiring young people striving to help us save lives. Along with their advisers, their dedication in organizing blood drives has made an enormous difference in our community.”

The truth is that SBC, like all blood centers around the country, depends heavily on high school students. In 2012, SBC collected 5,766 whole blood units at high schools, which is 21 percent of our mobile collections. In 2012, high school drives brought in about 10 percent of our overall collections.

One of our standout high school drives is Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, where we just held a drive today. Our February, 2013 Wilcox drive registered 219 donors, including 72 first-time donors. These drives are primarily for students, faculty, and staff, as well as parents, but many high school drives are also open to the public.

These drives would not be possible without substantial support from students. Nearly all of the high school blood drives are sponsored by the student government or another student club. At Wilcox, the Associated Student Body President Marisa Kwiatkowski is the current student coordinator, and the vice principal is involved in an advisory capacity. They are obviously very skilled. Currently, Wilcox brings in the most units of any high school drive (followed closely by Yerba Buena, Washington, and Pioneer). Wilcox also has the distinction of consistently drawing the greatest level of participation from district office employees.

SBC is also fortunate to have the support of an important partner to help us make our high school drives so successful. LifeScan, Inc., of Milpitas, which is part of Johnson & Johnson, has been sponsoring high school and community blood drives since the summer of 2000. In 2012, LifeScan encouraged nearly 9,000 donors through their sponsorship of movie tickets and Baskin Robbins pint-for-a-pint coupons, as well as popcorn and bags for high schools and selected community drives.

In total, we currently partner with 39 high schools in the area, all with generous support from LifeScan, Inc. We partner with high schools stretching as far as Santa Cruz to the southwest, to Encinal High School in Oakland to the east, and Half Moon Bay to the west.

We have several more high school drives coming up in the next month, including Branham High School in San Jose on October 15, Menlo School in Atherton on October 14, Yerba Buena in San Jose on October 25, and Kehillah Jewish school in San Jose on October 29. If you know any students or staff at these schools, or in any of our local high schools, ask them if they plan to donate … and please encourage them to stick with it and become lifelong donors!