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NEW BREMEN — Area high school students learned about blood donation at an assembly Thursday afternoon in preparation for a blood drive that will be held later this month.
New Bremen sophomores, juniors and seniors gathered in the high school auditorium to learn about donating blood. Red Cross Donor Recruitment Representative Jeri Garringer said she is a regular blood donor.
“I find it an easy thing to do,” Garringer said. “I donate blood every eight weeks. You’re eligible to donate every 56 days and I try to do that ... I’m a steady donor. It’s really, really important to me. I have family members that I wouldn’t have today if it wasn’t for donors.”
Garringer said in the Ohio and Indiana region, the Red Cross needs to collect approximately 550 units a blood every day.
“That’s a pretty big number,” she said. “We serve about 60 hospitals, which are the hospitals that your families go to when we have a local emergency. So, those 550 units are very, very important.”
She noted that when weather forces a drive to cancel or postpone, the Red Cross still needs to collect those units of blood.
“Those things really affect us,” Garringer said.
“We still have to have that blood, because if there’s an emergency, the last thing you want to hear for your family member is, ‘Sorry, we’re out of blood.’ It’s our job to get out there and teach people so that when you see a community drive going on, if you have the time, take that hour and stop and donate. You’re going to help save a life.”
Garringer said blood donors help save up to three lives.
“We take that one unit of blood — it’s slightly less than a pint — and we take it back to our laboratory,” she said. “We put it in a machine — a centrifuge — that separates it into three different components. So we take that unit of whole blood and make platelets, plasma and red cells.”
She said last year, New Bremen High School students donated 51 units of blood, saving 153 lives, and this year, the goal is to collect 40 units of blood.
Garringer told students that to be eligible, they must meet the height and weight requirements, be at least 16 years old and be in general good health. She added that preparing the body for a blood donation is important.
“The No. 1 thing I want to stress to you guys today is when you give blood, you need to get your body ready,” she said.
“It isn’t cool to have a bad feeling after you donate. If you get your bodies ready, you’ll have no problems.”
Drinking fluids and eating a healthy meal, she said, will prepare the body for a donation.
“Drink a lot of fluids, and then don’t skip meals,” Garringer said. “Have a good supper before you go to bed, get to bed early, and then in the morning, have a good, healthy breakfast.”
Garringer told students a granola bar or pop tarts are not considered a healthy breakfast, and students should eat something more substantial like pancakes and fruit or eggs and bacon. She added that having a positive blood donation experience requires that the donors treat their bodies right.
“You’re going to help save somebody’s life,” she said. “You’re going to have a positive impact on somebody, and if you come in here and donate and it wasn’t a good experience, you’ll never do it again.”
She told students they need a photo ID, and 16-year-old donors must have a parent sign a consent form. She noted that students will also need to be able to list any medications they take and where they have traveled if they have been outside of the country.
Before a donation, Garringer said students will have a few health tests.
“We want to make sure you’re healthy and feeling good, so we’re going to take your pulse, your temperature, your blood pressure and we’ll stick your finger and check your iron,” she said.
After the health check, donors will move on to the actual donation, which lasts between six and 12 minutes.
To demonstrate the prick of the needle, Garringer told students to pinch their skin, noting that the area of the arm does not have a lot of pain.
“I’m not going to lie to you and tell you there’s no pain,” she said. “There is a little pinch at the beginning.”
Students viewed a video about blood donation before having time to ask questions and sign up for the blood drive. The annual New Bremen High School FFA Blood Drive will be held on Feb. 23.
For more information on blood donations and the Red Cross, visit RedCrossBlood.org.