Gering High School students took a few minutes out of their day Thursday to save lives by donating blood.
The HOSA Future Health Professionals hosted its sixth annual blood drive in the media center from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Students signed up for various time slots to donate.
The blood drive was an idea by HOSA students to give back to their community.
“GHS HOSA hosts the blood drive to give something back to the community,” Pearl Johnson, GHS HOSA adviser said. “We wanted to do something health related and chose to host a blood drive.”
Johnson said, “It has become pretty popular with the students and several of the students, who donate blood, decide to donate again.”
Local blood drives help boost the supply of all blood types in the community blood bank, as supplies can dwindle. Regional West supplies blood not only for the hospital, but also for six critical access hospitals across the Panhandle.
Mercedes Finkey, a phlebotomist with Regional West, said on average, when a person donates blood, the cells in the blood are good for 42 days and the plasma is good for a year.
As part of the donation, students will also learn their blood type and receive a packet of information after the lab tests for diseases.
Several students donated blood for the first time and described the experience as positive.
“I’ve never donated before, but I was excited to give blood,” junior Tessa Brunner said. “Giving blood is good and can save a lot of lives.”
Senior Alannah Ventura donated for her third year and said she likes the blood drive because she is surrounded by her peers.
“It’s comforting to have my friends here because not everyone is a stranger,” Ventura said.
Throughout their time donating, Ventura enjoys supporting her friends through the process and gives herself a mental pep talk before donating.
“It’s fun that we get to see how everyone reacts to donating blood,” she said. “I have diabetes, so I’ve grown up with needles. I just tell myself, ‘I got this.’”
Ventura hopes her peers realize the impact they can have on people’s lives by donating blood.
“You’re doing a good thing,” she said. “You could possibly save three lives. Just giving a couple minutes out of your day, you could save lives and you get a free T-shirt.”
While some students were not worried about donating, others were worried about having a 16 gauge needle inserted into their arms.
“I’m really afraid of needles, but if everyone who was afraid of needles didn’t donate, there would be a lot less blood,” junior Will Larson said.
Once the needle was inserted, Larson squeezed a stress ball to keep the blood flowing into the bag. As he waited for the bag to fill up, he visited with the Regional West nurses and friends.
“It was a very good experience,” he said. “They were all very nice and professional. It just felt like it was the right thing to do.”
Finkey hopes the students continue to donate throughout their lives.
“I would encourage them to start donating when they’re younger because then you’re more likely to donate your whole life than if you’re my age,” Finkey said.
Most students were able to donate up to one pint of blood in five to ten minutes. Students received a T-shirt for their donation as well as a juice and snack.
Throughout the drive, students and staff donated nearly 40 units. Each bag can typically help three people, so 120 people across the Panhandle will benefit from the drive.
HOSA plans on hosting future blood drives to continue to save lives, students said.