Faced with constant blood shortages, blood centers are setting their sights lower, as in age. School blood drives are becoming increasingly important in keeping up with demand.
“We try to instill the younger generation to step up to the plate, because when I need it, I need those people, that generation to come up and continuously donate,” says Nancy Hendrick, Lee Memorial Health System Blood Center Community Relations Coordinator.
That’s why Lee Memorial Health System’s blood mobile rotates around the county’s high schools.
“We try to balance our mobile schedule. That’s why it’s really important, we have high schools every week,” says Hendrick.
Students learn the importance of blood and the spirit of giving. Many have already donated enough to reach the half-gallon, even gallon mark.
“Those high schoolers can donate when they’re 16. If they continuously donate four times a year five times a year and they watch their donations they could reach that,” says Hendrick.
To recognize their importance, students receive recognition for each milestone.
“When they get a half gallon donation they get a dog tag and they have their blood type on it. We give out gallon pins when they reach that level. We try to recognize them and to keep them inspired,” says Hendrick.
Currently, many of the area’s top donors are four times their age. Blood centers need young people willing to carry on the life-giving legacy.
“We need consistent donors, we need people that if they say they’re going to donate come in at least four times a year,” says Hendrick.While there’s no substitute for blood, there’s also no substitute for a loyal blood giver.