Schools take lead in donating needed blood

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Shaneeda Shaw-Hicks, a teacher at Dover High School, rests a moment after donating blood at the school’s Dec. 18 blood drive. (Submitted photos/Capital School District)

DOVER –– Every year, blood supplies are at an increased risk of running low during the winter months.

“People have a lot going on during the holiday season so going in to donate blood isn’t at the forefront of their minds,” said Michael Waite, director of Marketing and Community Relations for Blood Bank of Delmarva.

Even regular donors can’t always make it to their appointments but despite the reduction in donors, the need for blood remains the same, if not higher, due to a greater number of people on the roads .

“Right now we don’t have a shortage. We are trying to avoid a shortage,” Mr. Waite said.

And that’s why officials say now is the perfect time to donate; whether it be at the Blood Bank, a mobile bank or even at a local school holding a drive.

The Blood Bank acquires about 11 percent of its blood supply from the 75 participating schools and 11 participating colleges on the Delmarva Peninsula.

Dover High has been one of those schools for the past year and a half and held its most recent drive on Dec. 18 with

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Dover High School student Joan Masallo, ready to donate blood, waits for the Blood Bank technician during the school’s Dec. 18 blood drive.

more than 100 donors turning out.

“There is a little of everyone that comes out,” said Dawn Covington, a classroom specialist and coordinator of Dover High’s blood drives. “We have staff, faculty, students –– upperclassmen who are eligible to donate –– and their families.”

The two main requirements to donate blood are being at least 17 years old and weighing more than 110 pounds. Some medical conditions and medications make individuals ineligible to donate.

About 65 percent of the U.S. population are unable to donate and less than 5 percent of the eligible 35 percent choose to do so.

All eligible individuals of any blood type are encouraged to donate but the greatest need for blood is from O negative donors because it’s the universal blood type.

The high schools participating compete against other schools of a similar size in their donation area based on units of blood given. Last school year, Lake Forest High won the bragging rights for the Kent and Sussex region and a trophy with a total donation of 216 units. Lake was followed by Polytech High School, which came in a close second with 192 units.

If someone wants to donate through the school drive but can’t attend the drive, they may also give at a nearby Blood Bank location and have their donation counted toward the school’s donation numbers upon request.

But blood isn’t the only need the Blood Bank has –– platelets are always regularly sought because unlike blood, platelets can only be stored for five days before they have to be discarded.

Platelets are necessary to clot blood to stop bleeding. A healthy adult needs one platelet for every 10 to 20 red blood cells — so about 5 to 10 percent of the Bank’s donations need to be platelets.

For more information about the Blood Bank, to schedule an appointment or find the nearest donation locations, visit or call (302) 737-8400 or 1-888-8-BLOOD-8.

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