Students in Medicine Reestablish Annual Blood Drive in Partnership With the American Red Cross

On May 2, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Andover partnered with the American Red Cross to host a blood drive in the Pan Wrestling Room, which has been happening annually for over 40 years barring the Covid-19 pandemic. As one of the largest high school blood drives in the region, students and faculty alike came to volunteer and donate blood hoping to save lives, with each donation possibly saving up to three lives. 

Michael Kuta, Head Athletic Trainer and Instructor in Physical Education, described his role in organizing the blood drive, which he has been doing for approximately 42 years. His job includes making sure the eligibility requirements are updated and known by the community. Kuta also expressed the importance of donating blood in saving lives, how people globally need to donate, as blood isn’t something that can be synthetically created. 

“[While organizing the blood drive] we keep our community updated on who is eligible to donate and then try to maximize the number of donations. It’s one of the few things that can’t be, it has to come from other people, it has to come from donors, you can’t make blood, yet anyways, so people’s lives depend upon donating from all over the world. We can track where the blood ends up, not what person but what city, what hospital. It’s kind of neat to know that you can follow your donation’s voyage,” said Kuta. 

McKenzie Williams ’24, Co-Head of Students in Medicine (SIM), spoke on how the club is looking forward to facilitating the blood drive for students, breaking through the pause on the drive in the last couple of years due to Covid-19 restrictions. Williams also noted how she hopes that by having students come and give blood it diminishes possible fears about donating blood while also saving lives. 

“I’m really excited because this year is the one where we’re going to be able to start the blood drive [again], which hasn’t been able to happen for a few years due to [Covid-19]. [SIM] supports Mr. Kuta in the Blood Drive by getting students signed up and excited about doing this. At Andover we have a ton of students who want to change the world and participating in a blood drive is a really nice way to do that because you just come, donate your blood, get some snacks, talk to friends, and save some lives,” said Williams.”

Similarly, Marcela Hernandez ’25, SIM board member, described why she originally signed up to donate blood for the first time. Hernandez also commented on her experience, noting the strong collaboration and communication between campus volunteers and the American Red Cross organization. 

“I’ve always thought about doing a blood drive and the fact that they had this to access on campus and knowing that your healthy self is able to help someone in need who may not be surviving, it gives you a good feeling knowing that you’re helping someone. It’s a very selfless thing to do. It was really good overall, the Red Cross worked very well with everyone and was very friendly, and it was a relatively easy process,” said Hernandez.  

Alice Fan ’23 spoke on how she believes the education of teenagers on the importance of giving blood is crucial to the survival of people who become injured and who need it for surgery. Fan also noted how the process of giving blood for teenagers who are healthy and have access to a blood drive, such as the one held on campus, is easy.

“It’s really important [for students to know about blood drives] because when you go to a hospital and you need a blood transfusion, you would like for there to be blood available. The fact that there’s a shortage when so many people can give blood is a little sad. I think it’s very important for teenagers to know, especially when you turn eighteen, the importance of giving blood. Also it’s a very simple thing to do and any healthy human being can do it,” said Fan. 

Clyde Beckwith, Instructor in Physics, described his reasons for donating blood, expressing that the large amount of annual accidents and surgeries mean that hospitals require a large amount of blood. Beckwith also noted that he had been donating blood since the start of his career at Andover and hopes the school continues to offer the drive. 

“[I donated blood today] because hospitals need blood, because we have so many accidents where there are folks that need blood when they need surgery and also because I’ve been giving blood ever since I arrived at Andover, 30 years ago. It’s absolutely great [that the school offers the drive],” said Beckwith.