FRASER — The American Red Cross blood drive Shayla Whitt is hosting Aug. 2 will help save the lives of others.
And if the drive collects 30 units of blood from 30 donors, the 18-year-old recent Fraser High School graduate will receive a $300 scholarship. The blood drive will be held from 1-6:45 p.m. in the auxiliary gymnasium of Fraser High, 34270 Garfield.
At press time, Whitt had about a dozen donors already registered. Walk-in appointments are welcome but Whitt said, “It’s better for an appointment because they know they’ll get in.”
Donors must be at least 16 years old with parental permission and weigh at least 110 pounds. To register in advance visit www.red crossblood.org and enter the code “Fraser.” All are welcome to participate, but potential donors could be turned away for medical issues or another reason. Information on how to prepare to donate blood is available on the website.
The entire process, which includes registration and a medical history evaluation, takes about an hour. Whitt said the blood donation part only takes 8-10 minutes.
American Red Cross representatives will supply Whitt with another $10 in scholarship money per each additional donor after 30. The scholarship money will be used toward Whitt’s enrollment at Wayne State University to study pre-med. Whitt, who starts college this fall, wants to be a pediatrician.
“I love working with kids,” she said.
American Red Cross Communications Manager Bridget Tuohey said the scholarship funds for blood drives like Whitt’s are part of the organization’s donor recruitment funds.
“In total, we get about 20 percent of our blood from high school and colleges,” Tuohey said. “Every donation can save up to three lives. “
Each unit of blood is turned into three blood products: red blood cells, platelets and plasma. Once the blood is donated, it is transported to the Red Cross headquarters on Mack Avenue.
“They separate it into the three different products and simultaneously send it to a testing lab,” Tuohey said. The blood is checked for infectious diseases and the blood type is determined. “All that happens while they’re splitting the blood into three products.”
Once the process is finished, the blood is then distributed among 43 hospitals in Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties.
“Typically, we need more blood than we collect,” Tuohey said. “Blood is needed every single day.”
Blood transfusions are used for accident and trauma victims, hip replacement surgeries, leukemia treatments, cancer patients, burn victims, childbirth issues and more.
Whitt is familiar with blood drives. As a member of the FHS Future Health Professionals — formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America — the organization held two blood drives every school year: one in the fall and one in the spring.
“We got a considerable amount — close to 60 (donors) each time,” said Whitt, who was the group’s vice president this year. “We did a lot of community service and health-related activities.”
She also has been a blood donor four times.
“It’s no worse than going to the doctor and getting a shot,” Whitt said. “Knowing you’re saving someone’s life makes up for it. Your blood can be used in so many ways. If someone gets in an accident, they have another chance at life because you’re giving them your blood.”
American Red Cross representatives consistently hear from people whose lives were saved. The public can view what the organization is calling the “Summer of Stories” at www.redcrossblood.org/summer.
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