Community lines up to address blood shortage

To combat Virginia’s blood shortage, senior Manas Atluri helped organize a schoolwide blood drive in coordination with INOVA Health System.

“I think we as high schoolers have a role in society to do something good,” Atlrui said. “Doing this would be saving a lot of people’s lives, especially people who are in the emergency room, cancer patients and chemotherapy patients because there are a lot of people at the moment who are dying because they’re not getting blood on time.”

INOVA Blood Donor Services mobile operations manager Carolyn Bayless said high school donors are critical for blood supply in the Northern Virginia community, Maryland, and Washington D.C.

“The donors that participate in these [school] blood drives are 64% of the blood that we collect,” Bayless said. 

Senior Jyoti Gupta said she has always wanted to participate in a blood drive, and now that she’s old enough, she welcomed the opportunity to do so. 

“It feels nice knowing that one pint of blood can help so many people, and I think it’s pretty awesome,” Gupta said. 

Gupta said knowing you’re helping someone made the experience more rewarding. Bayless agreed that donors feel a sense of satisfaction after their donation.

“It’s a feel-good kind of thing,” Bayless said “You just gave somebody another opportunity for a birthday or to get married and have children or become the president.” 

Bayless said she was happily surprised with the large turnout at February’s drive. 

“The turnout [was] amazing,” Bayless said. “We had set up this blood drive with about 92 appointment slots [but] about 72 hours ago, that was blown out of the water. We came out here with 104 scheduled donors with consent forms, 80 people on a waitlist, and over 20 teachers that wanted to donate.” 

Atluri said the turnout exceeded his expectations, with new students still bringing in parental consent forms while the drive was happening. 

“I’m actually really happy that there was a huge turnout this year,” he said. “I hope there are more blood drives continuing when I leave.”