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Students give a life-saving gift

High schoolers donate blood

POSTED: February 17, 2014 1:00 a.m.

Last week at North Hall High School, students lined up and waited patiently for their turn to save a life.

More than 100 pints of blood were collected from faculty, parents and students during an American Red Cross blood drive.

“In reality, everyone knows someone who has needed blood,” said Brian Butts, a phlebotomist and the team supervisor for Red Cross at the drive Feb. 10. “It is so super important, and I know it is not on the forefront of people’s minds, because it is a hard sell.

“A lot of people think ‘There are other people out there doing it, so why should I?’ but the reality is we have a very limited donor base. The need for blood is always great.”

Butts has been donating blood as often as possible for nearly 20 years and has worked for Red Cross for the past eight years. The decision is a personal one for Butts, who suffered a catastrophic car wreck when he was 17 years old and received blood transfusions in the hospital.

“A drunk driver sideswiped me,” he said. “I don’t remember much of it, but apparently I bled out a whole lot and I had to have full facial reconstructive surgery. I am thankful for people who have given blood and given of themselves.”

Nowadays, he spends most of his week traveling across East and Northeast Georgia to help conduct blood drives. On Feb. 10, he woke up at 4 a.m. to begin setting up equipment at North Hall High School around 6:30 a.m. Though blood drives often end in the early afternoon, travel and set up times mean most drives equal 10- to 12-hour days for employees.

Blood Drives such as the one at North Hall are important because roughly one-third of the Georgia’s blood supply are from high school and college students, Butts said.

“It is a need that needs to be filled, and I figure that one day I might need it myself,” said Austin Truelove, a senior at North Hall High School who has donated blood five times. “I might as well give it while I can, and it is just a better opportunity now that it is at my school.

“I’m donating because it helps save lives and there is a blood shortage right now,” said Emily Jordan, an 11th-grader at the school.

Both students plan to continue donating blood in the future.

Georgia is classified as a “need” state, Butts said. Red Cross supplies roughly 100 hospitals in the region and to meet that requirement, it needs to collect roughly 1,200 donations every weekday, said Kristen Stancil, a communications program manager for the organization.

“If everybody who could donate did it twice a year, even though you can donate up to six times a year, we would never have a shortage of blood,” Butts said.

Inclement weather such as last week’s bout of snow further complicated the shortage problem. Many blood drives were canceled and fewer people showed up to the drives still operating.

“This is definitely a great reminder for people,” Stancil said. “Donate when you are eligible and when you are able to safely.

“Right now, we have a need for all blood types, but especially O-negative, O-positive, B-negative and A-negative.”

To donate, visit www.redcrossblood.org to find a donation center or blood drive near you, or visit the Gainesville Donation Center, which is at 311 Jesse Jewell Parkway. The center is open noon to 7 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, except the fourth Wednesday of the month; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

For more information, call 1-800-733-2767 or 770-297-0929.


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