Today, there are 83,019 people waiting for organs that will save their lives. Today, 17 of those people will die.
According to statistics, one donor can save or enhance the lives of 50 people. Each day approximately 32,000 pints of blood are used in the United States. Sixty percent of the population of this country are eligible to donate blood but only about five percent do.
T. C. Williams High School and the City of Alexandria are doing their part to improve these situations. The T. C. Williams Key Club sponsored a blood drive on Tuesday.
“Members of the Key Club went to every second period class to ask students to give blood and left permission forms for those who are 17 years old,” said Larry Trice, a teacher at T. C. and the Key Club sponsor. “Then, they went back to collect the permission forms and to answer questions about blood donation. We are expecting about 35 to 40 people to give blood today.”
The Key Club conducts two blood drives each year, one for the American Red Cross and the other for Inova Alexandria Hospital. Patrick Doyle, a senior at T. C. and a member of the Key Club said, “I am donating blood to save lives and because my parents give blood regularly,” Doyle said. “It’s a good cause.”
Woods Morrison, a 17-year-old junior added, “I give blood to help people who need it and, if I needed blood, I hope it would be there,” he said.
Andrew Parkinson, a 17-year-old senior, agreed. “Really, why not if you can help other people,” he said.
City staff also gave blood and City Manager Philip Sunderland added his support to organ, marrow and blood donation. “I am implementing a new policy that will grant administrative leave for recuperative purposes for employees who serve as bone marrow or organ donors,” Sunderland said in a memorandum to all city staff, dated Oct. 27. “I encourage all city employees to participate in this new medical donor program. Through these efforts, we can bring hope to those in desperate need of life-saving assistance. For bone marrow testing, this leave can be up to four hours, beginning when the employee leaves his/her work site to go to the donating or testing site. Employees who donate blood marrow will be granted up to five days of administrative leave for recuperation. Employees who serve as organ donors will be granted up to 30 days of administrative leave for the medical procedure and recuperation period.”
The city and T. C. efforts are part of a Gift of Life Donation initiative by U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. “One hundred days after the secretary arrived, he began this initiative,” said Dennis Wagner, the coordinator of the Gift of Life Campaign at the Health Resources and Services Administration within the department of Health and Human Services. “Secretary Thompson’s efforts in Wisconsin were very successful, among the most successful in the country. He is continuing those efforts and that commitment nationally through this campaign.”
THE FEDERAL initiative is comprised of six components: the workplace partnership for life; the model donor card; a national forum on donor registries; the national Gift of Life medal; driver’s education curriculum and increasing organ donations at the 300 largest hospitals in the country.
Alexandrian Tina Richardson is the managing director of the National Association for the Advancement of Organ Tissue Marrow and Blood donations. Richardson is working on a contract with HHS to enroll workplace partners, increase blood and marrow donation and to encourage people to use a new web site that allows individuals to download organ donor cards.
The association, commonly known as icansavelives.org, will encourage many different organizations to work together. “In working with HHS on all of these components, we have found that collaberation among the various blood, marrow and organ donor organizations will substantially increase the public awareness of and willingness to participate,” Richardson said.
“We are helping to coordinate a pilot blood, marrow and, organ donor information drive in the City of Alexandria on Nov. 18. Using the resources of the city, businesses, associations and volunteer organizations who are already enrolled as workplace partners, we expect more participation that will result in saving more lives.
“We chose Alexandria because of the large number of workplace partners that are here. This pilot project will be duplicated throughout the country,” Richardson said.
Julia Wright, the executive director of the Alexandria chapter of the American Red Cross, said she was pleased about participating in the program. “We need to do something to increase the number of people who are donating blood,” Wright said. “After Sept. 11, the lines were down the street. Unfortunately, this level of blood donation has not been sustained.
“As medical procedures have become more available, the need for blood has become greater. People don’t just need blood if they are in a car accident. Blood is required by cancer patients and for organ transplant procedures. It isn’t just strangers that need blood, it’s people that all of us know,” Wright said.
THE KEY CLUB has sponsored blood drives at T. C. for the past 20 years. Principal John Porter is proud to be a workplace partner. “Giving blood is very important,” Porter said. “We encourage other high schools around the region and throughout the country to join our T. C. students and sponsor blood drives. What better community service can we teach our students than this?”
For more information about the Gift of Life Initiative. Contact their web site at www.organdonor.gov. To download an organ donor card, go to www.workplacepartnership4life.org. For information about blood drives in your area, call 1-800 give life. For more information about Alexandria’s blood, organ and marrow drive on Nov. 18, call 703-683-2949 or e-mail email@example.com.