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Key Club organizes biannual blood drive

Junior Dustin Neu is a veteran donator but decided to up his donation to double red cell this time around. (Annie Harman/Echo Press)

Teenagers never cease to surprise the community. One day they’re serving soup to help feed the hungry, the next day they’re donating pints of blood to the American Red Cross.

Members of the Alexandria Jefferson High School (JHS) Key Club organize two blood drives every school year, one in the fall and one in the spring. Their spring blood drive took place on Thursday, April 24, during the regular school day. The club is responsible for coordinating with the Red Cross, arranging lunch for the nurses, and recruiting students to sign up to donate.

“It’s a feel good thing,” said Key Club president Abby Telander. “It’s not just about meeting a goal.”

“It’s just something good we can do to make a difference,” added vice president Rachel Sjostrand.

Key Club Secretary Hannah Vickstrom said that students tend to be nervous about donating because of a fear of needles, but that it’s surprising to see how many actually donate.

“Some of the people who donate can surprise you,” said Jenna Steffl, the club’s treasurer. The club officials agreed that donating blood can alter how some students are perceived, especially when they are repeat donators.

Junior Dustin Neu donated blood for the second time during the spring drive, but decided to do a double red cell donation. While double red cell donation is similar to a regular donation, it includes a special machine that allows the donor to give two pints of blood instead of the usual one. By returning the plasma and platelets to the donor, two pints of blood can safely be donated.

“It feels good to help and you get out of class for a while,” Neu laughed. “It’s a double bonus!”

Neu’s first time donating was last spring as a sophomore, when he needed a signed parental consent to participate.

In 2008, Minnesota became the 23rd state to pass legislation or adopt variances recognizing 16-year-olds as eligible voluntary blood donors with parental/guardian consent. One year after the legislation passed, 16-year-olds comprised more than 3 percent of the total Red Cross blood donor base in Minnesota.

Megan Wussow, a JHS sophomore, is now a blood donor thanks to this legislation.

“It’s something to do to help others,” Wussow said.

The West Central Minnesota Chapter of the American Red Cross confirmed that, on average, the students of JHS donate 40 units of blood per drive. Just one pint of blood donated from a student is enough to save up to three lives.

Annie Harman
Annie Harman is a reporter for Echo Press and The Osakis Review. She grew up in Detroit Lakes and graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire with a degree in print journalism and history in May 2012. Follow her on Twitter at annieharman
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