Gering High School students donate 34 units of blood at blood drive

March 1, 2019

GERING — Blood is vital for life and for some Gering High School students, Monday’s blood drive was an opportunity to serve the community.

Gering High School students gathered in the new media center to donate up to one pint of blood as HOSA future health professionals held their fifth annual blood drive. From the blood drive, HOSA collected 34 units of blood.

Local blood drives help boost the supply of all blood types in the community blood bank, as supplies can dwindle.

“We want to contribute to the community blood bank,” said HOSA sponsor and science teacher, Pearl Johnson. “At times, I know that our community blood bank is low on certain types of blood.”

Ahead of the blood drive, posters appeared in the high school hallway to encourage students to give back.

“What we do is we put up posters in the hallways and then I have the president and vice-president of HOSA sign up students who are interested in donating blood,” said Johnson. “We try to increase the amount of blood donations from year to year.”

This year, there were 34 students who signed up to donate with several of the students being first-time donors. One of them was senior Deacon Dameron.

“I decided to donate blood because growing up, I’ve always wanted to contribute to stuff like that,” Dameron said. “My parents have always given blood. A lot of my family always has, and I’ve always just looked forward to the day I’d be able to do that and contribute to helping other people that way. There’s nothing to lose by giving a pint to help someone else and save a life.”

To donate blood, you must be at least 16 years old. Students who are 16 years old must sign a parental release form, but students who are 17 and older can willingly donate.

Five Regional West staff members were present to help at the blood drive, which Gering student Hannah Johns appreciated.

“They were the sweetest,” she said. “They made it a lot better and reminded you not to be scared. They made it a comfortable experience.”

Johns said the process to donate blood is involved as the nurses require information about the person’s health to ensure no illnesses are passed along to the recipients. Nurses advised the students to contact the hospital if they become sick within the next day to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses.

After donating blood, Johns said, “ I feel really glad that it’s helping someone. It really is such an amazing thing.”

Regional West Medical Center nurse Amy Smith believes that it’s very important to be a donor and you can receive benefits from doing so.

“You save three people’s lives by donating,” she said.

After suffering health complications, Smith decided to donate and volunteer time at the donator’s center. She required 40 units of blood and without the generosity of donors, she would not be here.

Several students said that when they donate blood, they get an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Nurse Mercedes Finkey overwhelmingly agreed.

“A lot of people feel better when they give blood,” said Finkey. “Not only that, but they feel a sense of relief for helping in the community.”

Students could donate up to one pint of blood to the community blood bank, based on their weight and blood flow. Throughout the donation process, the nurses talked to the students. They gave students an orange stress ball to help with circulation into the tube.

As student Nathaniel VanAnne grabbed a T-shirt and a snack after donating, he said he was glad his donation impacted people’s lives.

“The nurses said 100 percent of it gets used, so that’s awesome,” he said. “It makes us feel good because it’s actually doing something.”

When it comes to donating blood, there is a fear of needles and passing out, so many people feel very uneasy about donating. Riley Gaudreault said people should not be afraid to donate.

“It’s more of a mental game than anything,” Gaudreault said. “The more you think about it, the more you get nervous, but (if you have) a positive mindset, there’s a positive outcome.”