RUMFORD — Mountain Valley High School students, staff and community members rolled up their sleeves for a Red Cross blood drive in Puiia Gymnasium. The Red Cross collected 44 pints of blood that could be donated to as many as 132 individuals.
First-time donor Sam Blanchard said, “The experience was not like I thought. I thought it would take a long time to donate. I did like the feeling of helping out others.” Blanchard is a MVHS sophomore.
According to the Red Cross website, the entire donation process from a donor registers until they walk out takes about one hour. The actual donation averages eight to 10 minutes.
Another first-timer, Dakota Hoff said, “Somebody else needs the blood more than I do. Needles don’t bother me since I have tattoos.” Hoff is a senior and plans to repeat the experience.
The Red Cross requires people with tattoos to wait one year after their tattoo before donating again.
“The Red Cross is a good cause. I started donating a few years ago when I became eligible,” said junior Justin Varnum.
Students may begin to donate at age 16, with parental permission.
Not everyone who shows up to a blood drive is allowed to donate. For example, senior Brooke Dolloff planned to donate but was turned away due to low iron in her blood. Even though she couldn’t donate, she said enthusiastically, “I would definitely try again.”
Several students who have donated in the past tried a different kind of donation. Most donors give a pint of whole blood. A few donors give “double red cells.” According to the Red Cross, this type of donation involves an apheresis machine which collects the red cells but returns most of the plasma and platelets to the donor. The donation time is a little longer and donors have to wait longer between donations but the recovery time is shorter.
Senior Matt Hosie donated double red cells for the first time. He said, “I started donating [whole blood] when I was a sophomore. Today they asked if I wanted to try double reds since I have O-negative blood.”
Red cells are used the most in transfusions. Donors with Type O blood and Rh-negative blood types are critical to maintaining blood supply levels for emergencies.
Senior Sam Cummings also tried donating double red cells for the first time. “I donate as often as I can. When my cousin was in an accident, her family donated her organs. I want to help while I’m alive.”
The MVHS Student Council sponsored the drive and they will hold another one on May 16.