Teens give back, donate blood

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 15, 2009

VIDALIA — It has been said that one can give of themselves through blood, sweat and tears. In the case of some Vidalia teens, for the first time it was blood.

First Baptist Church in Vidalia hosted a LifeShare blood drive Wednesday, and first-time donor Laura Cater, 17, said she felt better than she expected she would.

An older person who donated ahead of Cater got a little nauseous while giving blood, and that made her a little nervous.

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But when everything was said and done, she thought it was pretty neat that her one unit of donated blood could help as many as three people — which means that her blood would be walking around in three other people’s bodies.

“It’s awesome,” she said. “It’s like I’m everywhere.”

For first-time donor Emily Cavin, 18, the decision to give was an impulsive one when she saw the blood bus at the church.

“I’ve never done it before, so I guess I just wanted to see what happened since I’m finally old enough to do it,” she said.

But Cavin has another reason for donating blood — she’s a member of a nurse-training program at school that will eventually lead to phlebotomy training.

“I’m just getting done to me what I will eventually be doing to lots of other people,” she said.

Her curiosity aside, Cavin said she was glad for the opportunity to give blood.

“It’s kind of hard not to feel good when you can help other people, and it’s not going to take anything from you at all,” she said.

First-time donors tend to respond in ways similar to how Cater and Cavin did, LifeShare Blood Centers Donor Recruiter Debra Ainsworth said.

“Sometimes initially they will say, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s a big needle,’ but once they get past that initial stick they see it’s not so bad,” Ainsworth said.

Teens are also usually willing to donate blood after they hear stories about people their own age who have needed blood, Ainsworth said.

“It makes it real to them,” she said. “The need for blood doesn’t know an age.”

Every once in a while, if a pitch from a recruiter doesn’t do it, a gentle nudge from their friends will, Ainsworth said.

“That is some of the most positive peer pressure you will ever see,” she said. “One kid will go and do it, and the next time we have a drive, another kid will see it and say, ‘That’s not so bad. I’ll go with you.’”

And even though they’re young, their donations go to save just as many lives as anyone else’s.

“They’re heroes,” Ainsworth said.