NYBC encourages people to organize community blood drives

With the school season underway, New York Blood Center would like to encourage students, teachers and faculty to please organize blood drives at their schools, a process that teaches community service and leadership skills, and offers a learning experience for both students and the surrounding community.

The Little Doctors Program(R) is the brainchild of Karen Brothers, a middle school educator. Now in its 13th year, it provides students an opportunity to learn from the experience of organizing and planning a community blood drive. As part of the Little Doctors Program®, students participate in a special lesson about the lifesaving properties of blood and how it is used in their community. They then recruit family members and neighbors for a blood drive to be held at the school. At the blood drive the students are outfitted in hospital scrubs where they serve as "Little Doctors" to greet donors and serve post donation refreshments. To date, about 600 elementary and middle schools have sponsored Little Doctors Program® blood drives.

New York Blood Center (NYBC) offers scholarships for high school and college students who initiate and coordinate successful community blood drives. High schools willing to host two blood drives per school year will receive a $250 scholarship for one student, or two scholarships at $250 each if three blood drives are held. Students who independently organize and introduce a new blood drive within their community may earn a $250 scholarship if the drive yields at least 30 blood donations and $500 if that blood drive yields 50 or more blood donations. All scholarships are made payable to the student's choice of college.

Organizing a blood drive can be a thoughtful way of honoring or remembering someone special within the school community. Over the years, hundreds of blood drives have been dedicated to students, faculty and community members.

Last February, about 175 community members, teachers and personnel turned out in support of the blood drive held for 7-year old Heather McNamara, who was diagnosed in 2005 with an abnormal inflammatory myfroblastic tumor that had cut off circulation to her major organs. Heather was the first child in the world to undergo multi-organ transplant surgery, and returned to school for the first time this week after a seven month recovery.

"She loves it," said Tina McNamara, Heather's mother. "She absolutely loves school, and her class."

Prior to her surgery, Heather had received oral and intravenous chemotherapy, after which blood transfusions were required to maintain her blood and platelet count. Family members say Heather needed an additional eight pints of blood during her 23-hour operation.

Congratulations to Heather for her remarkable recovery, and to all school districts and communities that organize blood drives in support New York Blood Center's mission to help save lives.

To donate blood, please call: Toll Free: 1-800-933-2566 Visit: www.nybloodcenter.org

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