AP NEWS

JECA students donate to blood drive

April 16, 2019

A steady stream of students entered the Judson Early College Academy commons area Friday, reclined on blue chairs, and sipped a drink while waiting for a blue-scrubbed tech to come stick them with a needle.

About 40 JECA students took part in the final JECA blood drive of the year, providing valuable blood and platelet donations to the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center.

JECA senior Jada Whaley organized the year’s three blood drives that wrapped up with Friday’s session. Students choosing to donate arrived in the far corner of the school’s commons area, where eight reclining chairs were set up alongside five information booths.

They were then led to one of the chairs, where Blood and Tissue Center employees and volunteers spoke to them about the blood donating process before inserting a needle into their arms and drawing a pint of blood for that day’s donation.

Whaley said many of the JECA students donated at either of the two previous donation dates. One such returnee was Jacob Stroggins.

“I was nervous because I have a great fear of blood and needles,” Stroggins said. “But my mom was like, ‘You have to donate, you have to donate,’ because I’m O-positive. Last time, I almost passed out. This time I didn’t see any spots, so that was good.”

He said he’ll donate again.

“I’m going to keep doing it. I may be nervous each time,” he said, “but I know how important it is to do this.”

Whaley said about 30-40 students were expected to donate Friday. JECA, which operates in conjunction with the Northeast Lakeview College course schedule, sees many juniors and seniors spend their “off period” in the commons area. That provides for a wider base for donations, Whaley said.

Student recruitment began about two weeks before the drive, she said.

Students 17 and older aere able to donate, as long as they weigh at least 110 pounds. Sixteen-year-olds can give if they weigh more than 120 pounds and have a parental consent form signed.

JECA Principal Josephine Juarez was one of the blood donors on Friday. The idea of reclining in a chair next to a JECA student “is one of the greatest things,” she said

“The kids a lot of times are nervous,” Juarez said, “and when they see someone who could be considered an authority figure on campus that’s actually doing it, they feel a little more comfortable, and makes it a lot less anxious for them.”

Beth Lowrie, donor recruiter for the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, said high school blood drives account for about 20 percent of the area’s donations.

“This is extremely important. Our high schoolers are a major portion of the blood we bring in during the year,” Lowrie said. “These kids at JECA are so incredible. They are all about giving back and taking care.

“If we don’t let them know that donating blood is a good thing while they are in high school, then we can’t turn them into blood donors for life, and that’s what we have to have.”

After Whaley and her fellow JECA seniors move on, Lowrie said about a dozen students had shown interest in manning and sponsoring next year’s blood drives.

Lowrie said when a school shows administrative and classmate support, “I really don’t do the talking. I teach them to do the talking. They are my voice among their peers, and that’s what makes it work.”

jflinn@express-news.net