2018-01-12 / Front Page

Right time for student-led blood drive

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


With the help of Eddie Scott, account manager of donor recruitment for the American Red Cross Northern New England Region Blood Service, Scarborough High School junior Francesca Suster organized a blood drive at the high school to replenish the blood supply during the Red Cross’ most critical time of the year. (Michael Kelley photo) With the help of Eddie Scott, account manager of donor recruitment for the American Red Cross Northern New England Region Blood Service, Scarborough High School junior Francesca Suster organized a blood drive at the high school to replenish the blood supply during the Red Cross’ most critical time of the year. (Michael Kelley photo) Scarborough High School junior Francesca Suster proved last week she is a leader in the community by organizing an American Red Cross Leaders Save Lives blood drive just outside the Scarborough High School auditorium

Jan. 3.

According to the American Red Cross, “the Leaders Save Lives program encourages community minded high school and college students to host blood drives to help maintain the blood supply over the winter. Seasonal illnesses and harsh winter weather can often lead to a decline in the number of blood donors who come out to give. Students who participate as a blood drive coordinator can earn a gift card and are eligible to win a scholarship up to $2,500 for higher education.”

Eddie Scott, account manager of donor recruitment for the American Red Cross Northern New England Region Blood Service said the Red Cross’ most critical time for blood is between Dec. 21 and Jan. 7 because donations plummet with people distracted by the holidays or trying to tie up loose ends at work before the start of the new year.

“Any drive we can book in that time period is liquid gold. I could have booked it at any time, but she agreed to do it now and the school agreed to do it now, so we were thrilled,” said Scott, who has been with the Red Cross for 10 years.

Suster, who spent 100 hours volunteering Tuesdays and Thursdays at the American Red Cross blood center in Portland over the summer, was happy to help, especially after seeing the lack of blood drives in Scarborough and the impact just one drive can have for people in need of blood.

While at the center one day, she was looking over a list of blood drives in this part of Maine and noticed Scarborough was basically absent from the list.

“It only had one throughout the summer even though other communities had more. I wanted to get more involvement in Scarborough,” said Suster, who is interested in working as an intern at the American Red Cross Center in Portland this summer.

Scott said the only blood drives Scarborough has are the ones St. Maximilian-Kolbe Church on Black Point Road organizes three times a year and a small annual drive at Walgreens at Oak Hill. For many years, Wentworth School hosted a blood drive, but Scott said that has stopped in recent years.

The community, however, has two drives coming up. St. Maximilian-Kolbe Church, located at 150 Black Point Road, will host one Thursday, Jan. 18 from 1 to 6 p.m. and there will be one at Walgreens, 233 Route 1, Saturday, Jan. 28 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“The donors are here,” Scott said of Scarborough. “This saves them from going into Portland or Saco or wherever to donate.”

Scott said the goal of Suster’s drive was to filled 78 or 79 donor slots and successfully collect 60 donations of blood. Many of the donors, Scott said, were new donors, something that is common at high school blood drives. Other students in Scarborough also participated, both as donors or to promote or staff the event, High school Key Club members volunteered at the drive and fifth-graders at Wentworth School, with the help of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teacher Branden Johnson, created a video encouraging donors to give blood.

”The need is constant, just like they say. Every two seconds someone needs blood. Every donation saves one to three lives. It’s crazy the magnitude of the operation at a high school auditorium can have, what it does and who it helps,” Suster said.

Scott said 38 percent of the American population is eligible to give blood, but only 10 percent do. Since blood cannot be manufactured, the only blood that the Red Cross or other organizations can collect is through volunteer donors. Typically, donors must be at least 17-years-old, weigh at least 110 pounds, be in good health and meet a series of other eligibility requirements.

Scott said the Red Cross has recently launched an appeal for O-negative and O-positive donors, considered to be the universal donor since O blood can be donated to people with O, A, B and AB blood types. O blood is the most common blood type.

“It’s not a critical appeal, but we are in need of those blood types,” Scott said.

The Red Cross, which collects 40 percent of the country’s blood supply, is always accepting donations at its blood center on Forest Avenue in Portland and has a series of blood donation events set up across the state, including events later this month in Yarmouth, Windham, Buxton, Westbrook, Portland, South Portland, Standish and Gorham, as well as the annual blood drive at Lyman Moore Middle School in Portland, set for Feb. 8 from 1 to 7 p.m.

For more information or to schedule a time to donate blood, visit redcross.org/give-blood.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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