Blood donors brave discomfort to save lives |

Blood donors brave discomfort to save lives

Students as young as 16 can now give blood

Nicole Inglis
Felicia Anaya, a phlebotomist with Bonfils Blood Center, disconnects Kathrine Cork, a Moffat County High School senior, from a blood donation device Tuesday afternoon. Participants each donated about 20 minutes of time and a pint of blood.
Shawn McHugh

Kaci Meek sat outside the door of Room 320 at Moffat County High School on Tuesday.

Last year, she made the mistake of going inside.

The sight of three people in reclining chairs with needles sticking into their arms nearly caused her to lose consciousness.

So during Tuesday’s student council-sponsored blood drive, Meek’s job was to round up students, remind them of appointments and direct traffic outside the classroom.

“I just can’t donate blood,” she said. “I just can’t. But if I can run around and grab kids and help out, it makes me feel like I am doing my part. As long as I don’t have to go in, I’m fine.”

More than 30 students and staff members donated about 20 minutes of their time during the school day and about two cups of blood each to benefit the Bonfils Blood Center.

Bonfils also conducted a blood drive for the rest of the community at the Center of Craig with the help of The Memorial Hospital.

For the first time, Bonfils extended their drive to include 16-year-olds with a parent consent form.

Previously, Bonfils allowed students as young as 17.

Student council president Slade Gurr, 16, was eligible for the first time Tuesday.

He said he was a little nervous but was willing to spare a few uncomfortable minutes of his school day.

“It’s for a good cause,” he said. “So I’m willing to buck up and do it.”

This is the second year the MCHS student council has sponsored a blood drive, and he said turnout for the event has remained steady.

“Kids really like it,” he said. “They really get into it. Most say they really like that they can save a life.”

Bonfils phlebotomist Jeremiah Harlan, of Denver, said the organization travels to many high schools, and that drawing blood from the younger crowd sometimes presents difficulties.

“You get a lot more reactions out of the kids,” Harlan said. “There is a little more lack of knowledge about what they’re doing. Sometimes they get pushed into doing things they don’t want to or get teased, but at least it gives 16-year-olds the chance to get involved.”

Still, students sitting in the reclining blue chairs staring up at the ceiling of a science room remained calm.

Anna McIntosh said she had given blood before but gets nervous each time.

She was shaking in her chair and distracting herself by admiring the Lego space shuttles dangling from the ceiling.

“It’s helping people,” she said. “And somebody has to do it.”

At the Center of Craig, the after-work crowd was beginning to filter in just before 6 p.m. TMH workers said 70 people already had passed through the door to donate.

Rick Reinhard, of Craig, was no stranger to giving blood.

His phlebotomist, Abby Peters, said it was his 20th time donating with Bonfils.

“Every two months,” he said. “It’s my way of giving back. And every time I come in here around 5 or 5:30, I tend to see the same faces.”

He said he began giving blood in the Army and never stopped.

“I used to be a terrible donor,” he said. “I would pass out and everything.”

But like many others at MCHS and the Center of Craig on Tuesday, he braved the feared needle prick and discomfort in hopes of saving lives.

Kathrine Cork, 17, donated for her first time and said afterward her arm felt “weird” and “floppy.”

“But, I think it’s pretty important,” Cork said. “Stuff happens that’s totally out of your control and it’s people who donate who help them.”

Nicole Inglis can be reached at 875-1793, or

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