Blood Drive Draws Attention, Praise

By Jia Williams, Opinion Editor

One person can save three lives in 15 minutes. No superpowers or magic are required, just a willingness to sit tight in a vinyl chair as a medical professional draws blood.

Every year, more than 200 students donate a pint of their blood in the Inova Hospital blood drive. The school provides the volunteers and participants, and the hospital takes the blood.

The annual blood drive started over 12 years ago when Inova reached out to English teacher and National Honor Society (NHS) co-sponsor Jan Napoliello to set one up. “The first one was in the fall,” she says. “It wasn’t good and not everybody was sixteen.”

Since then, NHS has fine-tuned the process to be more efficient and safe for everyone involved. Donors must be 16 and over, a minimum of 110 pounds, and have a parent’s permission to give blood through a relatively painless procedure performed by phlebotomists, people trained in drawing blood, in the small gym.

On the day of the drawing, the Inova staff check the donor’s history, prick his or her finger, and test the blood to look for any deficiencies. “If your iron is low, they’re not going to take you,” says Mrs. Napoliello.

The staff also take the student’s temperature and blood pressure to ensure the student’s safety throughout the process. Preparing an arm for having blood drawn and the actual act of drawing blood is entirely done by staff sent from Inova so that the procedure is as painless and quick as possible.

The days leading up to the appointment, students are advised to eat normally, stay hydrated, and not drink any energy drinks.

“Energy drinks raise your heart rate, and sometimes we can get it down, other times we can’t,” she says.

According to former phlebotomist Carla Lemieux, an elevated heart rate can put an increased amount of stress on the heart because of its need to pump less blood throughout the entire body.  

After the procedure, the student is given snacks and a place to sit and rest before heading back to class and continuing on with the rest of their day. To prevent fainting, volunteers and hospital staff monitor the conditions of students for close to half an hour. If a student faints, EMTs are to be called and the student will be properly cared for.

This year’s blood drive was on March 27th and close to ___ people signed up to donate blood. In the end, the complex blood drive has a relatively simple goal.

“It’s about saving lives,” Mrs. Napoliello says.