Record Number of Donors Give Blood to Red Cross

Last Monday, the Phillips Academy community held its biannual blood drive. The six-hour event was sponsored by the American Red Cross and managed on campus by Athletics Trainer Mike Kuta, Becky Agostino ’07 and Instructor in Math Kathryn Green. This year’s blood drive had the biggest turnout yet. 111 people showed up and 89 people donated, translating to about 90 pints of blood. The blood will go to people who have chronic diseases such as cancer and hemophilia and require daily blood transfusions. It will also be aonhand for patients who require blood at a moment’s notice, such as those who have recently been involved in an accident. The Phillips Academy community is recognizing the importance of giving blood. Of the 89 donors, around 65% were students. Since Mr. Kuta established the blood drives with the Red Cross, Phillips Academy has hosted two per year, one at the end of Fall Term and one at the end of Spring Term. The Red Cross deals with the blood donation aspect of the blood drive, providing the nurses and equipment necessary for the process, and Andover gathers volunteers, obtains food, trains student volunteers at the Blood Drive and helps plan the actual event. Agostino is in her third year as student coordinator of the event and was responsible for publicizing the event, signing people up and organizing the schedule of donors and volunteers. Next year, Jenna Castellot ’08 will fill this role. Castellot co-coordinated last year’s drive in preparation. Students who did not meet the requirements for donor eligibility—to be in good health, older than 17, and above 110 pounds—were given the option to serve as volunteers in the event. The Phillips Academy Red Cross (PARC) also aided in the effort. According to PARC’s president Alyssa Yamamoto ’07, “the club isn’t directly in charge of the blood drive, [but] we do try and volunteer to help out.” Volunteers help set up, clean up, check in donors, serve food and drink and make sure donors are healthy when they leave. Castellot became involved because she thinks it is important to educate people about donating blood. “It’s so easy,” she said, “but it’s helpful to so many people; one donation can save two to three lives.” Agostino agreed, calling blood drives “one of [her] favorite community service events of the year because so many people from all parts of campus can get involved.” She also noted its significance, detailing that though no one knows if he or she will ever need blood, it is easy to donate, and one donation can save lives. Second-time volunteer Sarah Sheu ’09 described the process. First, each donor receives a number and information sheets, before taking a quick blood test and interview to determine that he or she is eligible to donate blood. “It’s disappointing to see people have to leave because they’ve recently traveled to a malaria-risk country,” she said. Then the donor waits until one of the beds opens up. The speed of the actual blood withdrawal depends on the size of the donor’s veins and how fast the blood is being pumped. After the process is finished, student volunteers lead the donor to the refreshment table, offering the donor food and ensuring that the donor’s face does not change color and that he or she is not lightheaded. Sheu says that she decided to volunteer because she cannot donate blood herself, yet recognizes its importance. Approximately 38,000 pints of blood are needed a day, so any donation is helpful. Monday’s blood drive was the first for donor Danny Silk ’07. “Since I don’t do well with blood, I was hesitant to participate in the blood drive,” he said. “In the end, though, I had to put the situation into perspective. I realized that you don’t get many chances to save a life, especially in such a quick and relatively painless way.” He described being worried before the process, but then recognizing that everyone else in the room was feeling the same way. Silk said, “In a way, it was a good bonding experience.”