High Blood Pressure: Record Amount of Blood Collected at DA Red Cross Drive

photo by alex hogue ‘21

photo by alex hogue ‘21

Written by Daniel Park ‘21

A hall filled with beds, beeping equipment and a whole lot of Band-Aids greeted students at Durham Academy on Wednesday, Oct. 24. This year’s student-led blood drive was an enormous success, with a record-breaking high of 75 pints of blood that will go on to help save hundreds of lives.

Organizers say these numbers could not have been achieved without the resounding support from the community and volunteers. The Red Cross Club at DA began in 2002 when a student named Katherine Brazer ’05 was inspired to create the club after volunteering for the Red Cross. Beginning with a single blood drive, the club, now led by senior Nechama Huba, holds two annual drives. With the help of Upper School math teacher Josh Ross, the faculty advisor of the club, the amount of blood collected continues to grow. Mr. Ross notes that in past years the “drives typically generated around 25–35 pints,” and now those numbers have increased to “42 pints last fall and 57 pints in the spring, and this most recent drive [collecting] 75 pints.”

Photo by Alex Hogue

Photo by Alex Hogue

Some people tend to be put off by the notion of donating blood, but Mr. Ross describes it as a truly “selfless act,” expressing that despite “being somewhat uncomfortable and having some minor pain, [I] know that it is all worth it.” The blood collected at the drive goes toward people in need, from trauma and cancer patients to those who suffer from burns and sickle cell disease.  The Red Cross affirms that blood donations are vital for trauma and surgery patients “because red [blood] cells carry oxygen throughout the body” and execute the functions necessary for recovery. Mr. Ross concludes that “being a blood donor means saving lives.”

William Edwards, an Upper School science teacher and a regular at the biannual drives, echoes that message: “Every time I donate blood, I feel that I have done something good and worthwhile that will serve as a benefit for someone in need.” Mr. Edwards shares his story that it was his dad who “donated blood on a regular basis,” and it was this example of bravery that led him to “first [begin] donating blood when [he] was in college." He has continued to donate ever since.

For both Mr. Edwards and Mr. Ross, donating blood is a fulfilling act. “I don't have enough money to donate to every worthy cause,” Mr. Ross explains. “I do have enough blood to donate as often as possible.”

With the constant need for blood, the club has big plans for the future. Mr. Ross hopes to make the blood drive an event not just for Durham Academy but for the larger community and to get more parents and other community members involved. More importantly, he wants to change the culture, and he expresses his hopes to change “perceptions of blood donation to the point where students are excited to turn 16 because that will mean they can start donating.” With plans to hold another drive in the spring, the Red Cross Club pushes forward with high hopes in hand.

Learn more about what happens to donated blood at https://rdcrss.org.