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Blood drives mitigate blood droughts

By Caitlynn Sue April 4, 2024

The school library bustles with activity—but instead of students studying and working at the computers, the tables have been cleared and replaced with foldable cots. People in purple uniforms and masks welcome students and staff into the room. On one side, there is a long table covered with chips, cookies and drinks.

On Feb. 15, ASB hosted a blood drive in collaboration with Vitalant, a non-profit organization that provides blood and transfusion medicine to hospitals across the U.S. In the morning, Vitalant workers set up the equipment while ASB prepared documents for the blood drive. Participants came in throughout the day for their appointments.

Peter Yoon Art

Before drawing blood, Vitalant workers made sure each participant’s iron levels were safe for donation. Then participants did one of two types of blood donation: whole blood, or Power Red. Whole blood is the most common type of blood donation, where the blood that is collected is separated into transfusable parts—red blood cells, plasma and platelets—after it is shipped to its destination. Power Red uses an automated process to collect double the concentration of red blood cells as whole blood, and the blood is immediately separated into its 3 components. After a Power Red donation, plasma and platelets are returned to the donor.

Donated red blood cells are usually given to patients with chronic anemia or surgery patients to make up for lost blood. Platelets—essential to forming blood clots— are given to patients undergoing chemotherapy, which suppresses bone marrow and thus prevents it from producing platelets naturally.  Meanwhile, plasma helps patients with serious burns or severe blood loss by boosting their blood and fluid levels and replenishing clotting proteins. The donations took around one hour per person. After their donation finished, participants were encouraged to stay for 15 minutes to eat snacks and drink fluids so that their bodies could readjust.

Peter Yoon Art

To sign up for the blood drive, students and staff had to fill out a questionnaire and permission slip to ensure their health was suitable for blood donation. The blood drive was organized by Junior Songhee Rha.

“I love to work in ASB’s service events where we give back to the community. I worked in the blood drive last year and found it to be a cool and unique event, so I wanted to chair it this year—which turned out to be a very rewarding experience,” Rha said.

Preparation for the blood drive began in December, when ASB reached out to Vitalant, —whom they worked with to host the blood drive last year as well. ASB advertised the drive through social media, word of mouth and physical posters; but unfortunately, they were unable to receive the participation they had been hoping for. While their original goal was to have 32 donors, only 27 donors participated in the end, a few from walk-in appointments on the day of the blood drive. According to Rha, this was likely because most of the school does not fit the requirements to participate in a blood drive or is unwilling to miss class to participate. Due to this, in addition to several students reporting that they felt pressured by Vitalant staff to do Power Red donations despite not signing up for it beforehand, ASB does not plan to host a blood drive next year. Nevertheless, the blood drive was a positive, meaningful experience for most participants.

“The blood donation was simple and quite relaxing. I had no inconveniences during the whole process and the online application was also very straightforward,” said Sophomore Soloman Chang.

With over 5 million people across the U.S. in need of blood transfusions, through students’ and staffs’ generous donations, the school was able to help change the lives of several of these patients.


About the Contributors

Caitlynn Sue

staff writer

Caitlynn Sue is a sophmore at Leland High school and an artist for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys drawing, playing violin, and dancing.

Peter Yoon


Peter Yoon is a sophomore at Leland High School and is an artist for The Charger Account. During his free time, he likes to listen to music, draw, and sleep.

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