Blood, plasma, and needles… oh my!


Photograph by: Sarah Wortman

Donor chairs in the Cam High cafeteria used during the United Blood Service drive.

Arms adorned in colored bands and red and white balloons dotting the halls signaled Cam High’s semi-annual blood drive.

The students and faculty of Cam High donated a total of 224 units last Tuesday and Wednesday, compared to 204 units donated last December. Although not quite reaching the 233 units from last May, Mrs. Mary Harris, school nurse, said she was impressed, considering the football team was unable to give blood, due to their prolonged season.

Cam High currently donates more units of blood and plasma than any other school in the district, averaging 109 units over the past three drives. Pacifica ranks second with 99 units. The school who has the highest participation rate will win a grant ranging from $1500-$3000.

Students who donate six units of blood while still in high school also receive a red cord to wear for graduation.

“I think a lot of [the students] want the cord, but I think they’re also donating just because they like to,” said Harris. “It’s a good event, especially now, since twice this week we were threatened […] You hear a lot of bad things about teenagers too many times, so for me, the blood drive is a good thing because it lets everyone know that teens are doing something good.”

For some, reasons for donating are much more personal.

“You should give blood because there are people like me who’ve gone through really intensive surgeries,” Tyler Bender, senior, said in a previous episode of Cam High Connect. “For example, when I was five months old I had to take in six units of blood […] and without those units I wouldn’t be here today.”

Although the drive was not without complications, the professional phlebotomists worked to quickly resolve any issues.

“The needle went through my vein […] which caused it to swell, but they fixed the situation very quickly and made sure I was okay,” said Iris Saenez, senior and two-time donor.

Not all students who registered were able to donate. Students complained about the United Blood Service’s required height-to-weight ratio and hemoglobin and blood pressure levels; however, according to Nurse Harris, the restrictions were enforced in the students’ best interest.

“They’re looking out for their health, especially cause you guys are young– sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen,” said Harris. “Once they implemented the body weight ratio, they had a lot less difficulties with fainting, getting sick, [and] things like that with their donors at school.”

“I thought it would be a good idea to help people who needed it […] it’s a simple way to help people,” said Katie Rodriguez, junior and first-time donor.

High schools that host blood drives can participate in The High School Challenge, a competition facilitated by the United Blood Services. Competing schools are separated into four tiers based on total enrollment. With an over 2000 student enrollment, Cam High is ranked in Tier One and competes with 18 other schools, including Thousand Oaks, Newbury, and Oxnard High. Winning schools will receive cash, a trophy, and a specially designed T-Shirt at the end of the school year.

The United States Blood Service will return to Cam High in May for another blood drive. For those interested, see Mrs. Harris or visit their website.