Donating blood may be a foreign experience to many students, especially due to our young age. Because blood drives typically require people who are at least 17 years old, donations to the general blood supply may prove insufficient. Thus, North Hollywood High School hosted its annual UCLA Blood Drive, aimed at students. However, this time, 16-year-olds could donate, as long as they had parental/guardian consent.
As a student who met the age requirement, I, along with my other junior and senior peers, decided to donate blood. Although the pandemic situation is getting better every day in California, hospitals still desperately need blood as their supplies continue to run low. According to the UCLA Blood & Platelet Center, “There is a severe blood shortage affecting our center and blood suppliers across the nation such as the American Red Cross. The shortage is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.”
The UCLA Blood Drive took place in our school auditorium and gym, always ensuring a safe distance between all donors. When students first arrived at the auditorium, they were required to show their consent form and were asked to fill out a form overseeing past medical histories and information. Then, students were taken into the gym for questioning. They were also tested to see if they meet the weight, iron level, and temperature requirements, both of which were necessary for them to proceed with the donation process. These requirements are put in place to ensure the safety of donors, as this is a completely voluntary process. Participants were reassured that they may decide to stop donation at any time, in which case, they may exit the building.
The blood drive always socially distanced participants and provided further accommodations to ensure the safety and wellbeing of donors and their blood. For instance, the donors were given more space during the entire donating process by increasing social distancing in the screening, collection, and refreshment areas. Additionally, employees frequently cleaned and disinfected all areas of use after each donor, including donor beds and other surfaces. After donation, participants were required to lay in the beds for about 5-10 minutes to ensure that they didn’t feel too severe of effects, such as dizziness, nausea, or pain. After receiving the employee’s approval, donors then moved onto the refreshment area, where they were served individually wrapped snacks and drinks to limit exposure to the supply. This contrasts the traditional method of donors going up and choosing their supply of food themselves.
Personally, I enjoyed the blood drive, as I don’t have a phobia of blood or needles. As I donated blood, I would make conversation with my assigned worker and other students who laid near me as they participated in the drive as well. The UCLA Blood Drive was a refreshing, new experience that I do not regret taking part in. Not only have I made a contribution to the medical community to help the less fortunate, but I also made a memory I will never forget. (I also enjoyed the free snacks and drinks quite a bit.) Although there isn’t much flexibility with blood drive donor requirements, I encourage anyone who is eligible to consider taking part in donating their blood. Other organizations, such as American Red Cross, frequently hold blood drives, outside of the school environment, where eligible participants can walk in at any time to take part. Learn more today at https://www.redcross.org/give-blood.html.
Sabrina Mo, Grade 11
North Hollywood HGM High School