By Sade Goodridge
“I’ve never done this before,” one student confided as she nervously waited in line. The volunteers behind the table smiled at her. “It’ll be all right,” one of them said. “The people here are trained professionals, and you will not be in any harm.” The student released an audible sigh of relief as she handed the clipboard back to the volunteer.
Soon after, the young lady returned beaming. “How did it go?” One student asked. “It was actually okay. In fact, I ended up donating double the amount of red blood cells!”
On Sept. 22, 2022, Ponte Vedra High School participated in its first blood drive since 2019, sponsored by OneBlood and assisted by account representative Jim Thompson. OneBlood is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) community asset responsible for providing safe, available, and affordable blood to more than 200 hospital partners and their patients throughout most of Florida, parts of Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and North Carolina.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, PVHS often hosted numerous blood drives throughout the school year to provide students with the opportunity to donate their blood. The pandemic hit and to protect the health and safety of the donors, nurses, and those who would receive the donation, blood drives at the school ceased until now. Since OneBlood and other blood banks across the country were at critically low levels during and after the pandemic, the need for blood was vital — so OneBlood reached out to the schools that were planning to host a drive and asked for student volunteers to help be ambassadors for the school. The volunteers attended a training in which they learned the ins and outs of hosting a blood drive, including how to handle situations in which people express fear for the donation ahead. PVHS senior volunteer Amelia Coker said, “I thought it was a good cause to volunteer for, especially after hearing that blood supply levels were at a critically low level.”
Based on donations from the past, a goal was set for a donation of 40 units of blood — potentially saving 120 lives, as one pint of blood can save up to three lives. Ponte Vedra High School students crushed this goal with 64 procedures and 70 units of blood (six people donated double red cells which provided two units). This means that 198 patients could benefit from the lifesaving efforts of blood donors at Ponte Vedra High School.
Much of the blood drive’s success can be attributed to the students’ desire to do their part in saving lives as evidenced by senior Zander Javier, who said, “I felt the compulsion to help others.”
According to oneblood.org, more than 4.5 million patients need blood transfusions each year in the United States and Canada. If you are interested in saving just three of these lives, visit OneBlood at oneblood.org to search for a donation site near you. If you know of a child who is older than 16, has a signed parent permission form, and attends Ponte Vedra High School, the school will be hosting its next blood drive on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022.
Sade Goodridge is a student at Ponte Vedra High School.
Photo courtesy Sade Goodridge
Ponte Vedra High School students donating blood on the bus.