CENTERBURG — A new law recently signed by Gov. Ted Strickland allows 16-year-olds to join the critical lifesaving team of donors who keep Ohio’s blood banks filled with the precious gift of life.
According to Knox County Chapter of the American Red Cross Director Kelly Brenneman, these young people will be an important addition to the effort which the Red Cross has committed itself to for many years; having a safe and plentiful blood supply available when emergencies cause people to need donated blood and blood products.
“Every donation can save three lives,” Brenneman said of the donations collected from blood drives conducted periodically throughout the county. The procedure takes about an hour from start to finish, and is relatively painless.
The new Ohio law means for the first time youths as young as 16 will be able to donate with a parent’s permission. A group of Centerburg High School students who gave blood at a National Honor Society blood drive Friday said giving blood is an easy way to potentially save another person’s life.
“I know it helps save a lot of lives, so I want to take part in something that’s not just for me but would help a lot of people,” said 16-year-old Centerburg student Bryan Thompson, who donated for the first time on Friday.
Of the 60 students who registered for the drive, many were 16 and donating for the first time. “I just turned 16 a month ago,” said sophomore Eric White, who added he was not nervous about the needle involved in giving blood. “I’ve had blood drawn for tests and stuff,” White said. He said the reason was simple for his participation. “It’s helping people and I’m eligible.”
In the Centerburg auditorium, reclining chairs were set up on the stage where Red Cross phlebotomists talked with students while the blood was drawn over a time span of about 40 minutes. After the procedure, the students are given juice, water and snacks. They return to class a short time later, once they are sure they feel completely steady after the procedure.
Everyone’s done great today” said phlebotomist Terri Donaldson, who works for the American Red Cross, Central Ohio Region Blood Services.
Ashley Burton, 17, a junior at CHS had a moment or two of unsteadiness, but said it was worth it to know she had helped someone with her donation. “I didn’t pass out all the way,” she said with a slightly peaked but smiling face as she nibbled cookies before returning to class. Burton said her mother and grandmother regularly donate blood, and have taught her the importance of donating.
Ohio State Represenative Margaret Ann Ruhl said she voted in favor of the new law. “It doesn’t cost the state of Ohio anything and increases the the amount of blood donated,” Ruhl said.
A signed form giving a parent’s permission ahead of time is required for 16-year-olds to donate according to Brenneman.
“It really tickles me to death that we’re opening up the age limit to 16-year-olds, because traditionally our donor age is a more mature age,” said Brenneman.