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Bri Parson, from the Red Cross, checks on first-time blood donor, SHS student Mark Clark, above, last week at the Key Club hosted blood drive taking place in the SHS gym. At right, Reese Whitted, left, and Brielle Aklestad greeted everyone with a smile while checking people into the Key Club blood drive held at SHS last week.

Shelby High School Key Club hosted their semi-annual Red Cross Blood Drive in the Shelby High School Gymnasium on Friday, Nov. 22. There were around 25 students and staff members who signed up to give a pint of their blood to help save lives. 

Senior Mark Clark donated his blood for the first time. The tourniquet wrapped tightly around his arm, he pumped the squishy yellow ball in his left hand nervously, producing plump blue veins. The Red Cross phlebotomist used a thick black marker to denote the insertion site on his vein just before she prepared the needle. Clark looked away and squeezed his eyes shut just before the syringe pierced the skin. Then he turned back with a smile. 

“The marker actually hurt more than the needle,” he laughed. “I wanted to do it last year, but the weather was bad and they couldn’t come.”

He joked about donating blood to get out of school and for the snacks, but he said he was glad to help save lives. 

Clark is just one of the students who donated blood. Key Club advisor, Rob Gruber, coordinated the blood drive.  He said the Red Cross collected 23 pints of blood by the end of the day. 

“Each volunteer gives one pint of blood and it takes about six minutes to donate,” said Bri Parson from the Red Cross. 

Parson said the blood that is donated is crucial. It just depends on the situation, but she said that sometimes people need a lot of blood. 

“Trauma victims might need upward of 20 units of blood to save their life,” she said.  

Key Club Members took turns helping with the blood drive throughout the day. Brielle Aklestad, Reese Whitted and Avery Hoover were a few of the members volunteering. Aklestad and Whitted helped check donors in and Hoover helped provide sandwiches, snacks and drinks when students and staff completed their donations. 

“We help host the blood drive twice a year,” Aklestad said. 

She urged people to consider donating blood in the future. 

To donate blood, the state of Montana requires that you are 18, but you can still donate at 16, with parental consent. The Red Cross website states that you can only give blood once about every three months and you should be in good health at the time you are donating.

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