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Iyari Piedra folded open a gray T-shirt for the Fike High School Blood Drive and looked at the design front and back.
She is one of 26 volunteers, three alumni and a handful of Red Cross personnel who will serve as registrants, greeters, escorts, pod leaders, canteen servers and walkers for the American Red Cross Blood Drive in the Fike High School gymnasium from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday.
“This is the nation’s largest one-day high school blood drive, and it’s really because it’s a community event,” said Bryson Schmidt, account representative in the donor recruitment department at the Red Cross. “It is a really big, and we are excited because our community in Wilson really comes together to save lives.”
Schmidt is a 2013 graduate of Fike High School.
“This was the first place I ever donated blood,” Schmidt said. “It turned me into a lifelong donor, and I hope it does for everybody else.”
One pint of blood can save three lives, Schmidt said.
“Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood, whether that’s for their medical treatment or emergency care,” Schmidt said. “A lot of time it’s to stay alive. We can’t manufacture blood, so we have to rely on donors.”
Iyari and her classmates held a preparatory class where they received their assignments and were told what their responsibilities will be on Thursday.
“It is a very challenging day, but it is a very rewarding day,” said Casey Stephens, an account manager with the Red Cross.“Basically, (the) Fike blood drive is like five or six regular blood drives packed into one gym. This is a very big deal.”
The goal this year is to collect 650 points.
“It’s a matter of life and death,” Stephens said.
Kristin Sawyer, the Red Cross district manager for eastern North Carolina, told the students that as a 23-year-old, she had a medical crisis when it was discovered she had aplastic anemia, where you body stops producing blood.
“I was completely dependent on blood for survival,” Sawyer said. “I’m here because of blood donors. I used about 100 pints.”
Stephens encouraged the students to use social medial to each find five people to come in during the drive to give blood.
Colin Bateman, a senior, said it’s important to participate in the blood drive because it saves so many lives.
“Also, through saving so many lives, we can, ourselves as volunteers, have that feeling of doing good for everybody else,” Colin said.
Nirrya Foster, a senior, said she has a personal experience with the need for blood.
“My grandmother used to have breast cancer, so people like her need a lot of blood transfusions, so it made me want to participate,” Nirrya said.
Schmidt is encouraging potential donors to speed up the process by making an appointment and completing health history questions for a RapidPass. Both can be accomplished by visiting www.redcrossblood.org.
Doing so can save donors about 15 minutes of registration time.
Donors should generally be in good health, be at least 16 years old, bring a donor card, driver’s license or two other forms of ID and weigh at least 110 pounds. Donors should maintain a healthy iron level by eating iron-rich foods like red meat, fish, poultry, beans, spinach and iron-fortified cereals and raisins. They should also drink an extra 16 ounces of water prior to donating. Donors should not have infectious diseases because the blood will not be used.
For more information, call 1-800-733-2767.