Because medicine is in his blood, junior Leo Eisner, co-president of the Pre-Med Club, has organized Country Day’s first blood drive in 10 years.
The blood drive is sponsored by the American Red Cross on Friday, May 18, in the gym. Participants must be older than 17, except for 16-year-olds with signed parent consent forms.
Although this is his first time organizing a blood drive, Eisner said his former school, the Village School in Houston, had annual drives.
“So I, loving medicine, thought, ‘Why not get it started here just like most schools do anyway?’” Eisner said.
He said there was much more communication involved than he had anticipated, with sending logistical emails to Red Cross representatives as well as emails to publicize the event.
Although Eisner said he wanted to book the Red Cross truck – the “bloodmobile” – for the event, it requires a booking eight months in advance. Since he organized the drive about four months before the event’s date, he could book only the gym for the drive.
Because the school recently invested in a new gym floor, Eisner also had to check with a Red Cross representative to affirm that none of the equipment would harm the floor.
Eisner said that for those who sign up beforehand, the complete process should take under 40 minutes. It typically spans about an hour, but only about five to 20 minutes are spent donating the one pint of blood, according to a representative from Bloodsource, a non-profit blood center. She said that along with interviewing the donor to check eligibility, the Red Cross staff assesses the donor’s vital signs and takes a small amount of blood to examine the iron count.
Afterward, the donor normally relaxes for 15 minutes while replenishing fluids – water, soda, or Gatorade are usually available – and eating salty snacks, such as cookies or chips, to help retain fluids and regain strength, according to the representative.
As long as the donor is properly hydrated and fed, they should not experience side effects, she said. Although it’s uncommon, sometimes donors feel light-headed because of improper hydration and nutrition, or simply because their body reacted. For 48 to 72 hours afterward, the donor may feel tired and should not participate in any strenuous activities, according to the representative.
“It’s really not as scary as everybody thinks it is,” the Bloodsource representative said. “Every blood donor helps people out in the community. Each blood donation can potentially save up to three lives, and it’s constantly being used.
“You never know when you might be that person that might need the blood.”
Biology teacher Kellie Whited agreed.
“The people that run the blood drive are so good at what they do that it’s not as traumatic as you think it’s going to be,” Whited said.
“Also, it’s so easy for your body to make up that blood volume, so it’s not doing any harm to you. But it will do a lot of good for other people.”
Blood centers especially seek out donors with the blood type O-negative because any patient can receive it without reacting negatively, according to the Bloodsource representative.
Eisner said he had received about 35 official sign-ups through the Red Cross website as of May 15, and he said that others have told him they plan on donating. However, he said that people should sign up quickly if they want time slots during lunch or elective, as those periods will be crowded.
This will be Eisner’s first time donating blood, as he was too young during the blood drives at his former school.
He said he hopes that the drive will become an annual event.
Students, staff, and parents can register to donate by visiting https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/drive-results?zipSponsor=CAVS for participants over 17 years of age or https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe9rDRiyZkhfpENXjqDE5xiTfQ1gNMTV_2qGYXtOFmymkMEtQ/viewform for 16-year-old donors.
—By Larkin Barnard-Bahn