Nonnewaug Extends Arms to Save Lives at Blood Drive


Sophie Pape

Junior Madi Dannenhoffer prepares to give blood June 3 at Nonnewaug.

Sophie Pape and Jano Nakhla

WOODBURY — Nonnewaug’s National Honor Society hosted its annual blood drive for the American Red Cross on June 3. Many students and staff supported by either volunteering or donating. 

I donated blood because of my mother. She is the strongest person I know and needs other people’s blood to survive. Donating is extremely important to me, not only for my mom, but for everyone in the world who needs it. It only takes a few minutes of your time to give another person years to live.

“I have been receiving blood transfusions for 15 years,” said my mom, Karen Pape. “I have a vein problem that has caused me to lose a lot of blood. The first time I lost a lot of blood the doctors were surprised to see me conscious and awake. They said I was lucky I didn’t suffer from a heart attack and/or die. They admitted me and I spent the next few days getting transfusions. I was so sick I didn’t even realize until later on.”

Melissa Hodges, a chemistry teacher and advisor of the National Honor Society, said that while this spring’s blood drive didn’t yield as many donations as usual, it was still a lifesaving success.

“We were a little slower this year. We had 23 successful student and staff donors, so 69 lives were saved,” Hodges said. “The bottom line is one donor saves three people, and all you have to do is lay down, take a nap for a little while, eat some snacks and you’re done.”

“I decided to donate because I thought it was important due to the blood shortage that is currently going on in our country, so I wanted to contribute to a good cause,” junior Michaela Pellino stated.

Many students and staff came down and either donated or helped, providing snacks, juice, and a hand for anyone who needed it while donating. 

“I decide to give blood whenever I can because I know other people can’t, and people need it to survive,” junior Madison Dannenhoffer said. “I try to do whatever I can to help people, and donating blood is one of those ways. I felt OK afterwards, a little lightheaded, but other than that I was OK. Donating is important to me in order to help others and save lives.”

— Sophie Pape

Blood Drives Nothing New to Nonnewaug

After hosting no drives last year due to COVID-19 restrictions at school, there were two blood drives at Nonnewaug in the fall. Another was set for Feb. 25, but it was canceled due to a snow day.

The National Honor Society has traditionally run three blood drives each year, and the FFA has traditionally run one here at the high school,” Hodges said. “They are all sponsored by the Red Cross. They provide the equipment and medical personnel. We simply provide the space for them to host the blood drives.”

The rest of the country continues to face a severe blood shortage.

“The American Red Cross says the nation is facing its worst blood shortage in more than a decade, citing a drop in blood drives due to the pandemic,” NPR’s Rachel Treisman reported Jan. 11.

While the issue itself has been identified, what could be causing such a critical shortage in blood donations across the nation?

“There has been a significant drop in donations during the pandemic, and weather conditions and staffing limitations have caused ongoing cancellation of planned blood drives,” Treisman continued in her article. “There’s been a 10% overall blood donation decline since March 2020, and a 62% drop in college and high school blood drives during the pandemic, [the Red Cross] says.”

The official Red Cross website explains why the shortage of workers and volunteers is such a critical issue: “Dangerously low blood supply levels are posing a concerning risk to patient care and forcing doctors to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait until more products become available.”

NPR reported that the shortage is impacting hospital care.

“In recent weeks, the Red Cross — which provides some 40% of the nation’s blood — has had less than a one-day supply of critical blood types and has had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals,” the article read. “It says that at times, up to one-quarter of hospital blood needs are not being met.”

The shortage of blood donations due to staff limitations and COVID-19 is detrimental to the health of the country. Red Cross medical director Dr. Baia Lasky encouraged Americans to donate.

“Please, if you are eligible, make an appointment to give blood or platelets in the days and weeks ahead,” Lasky said in a Jan. 11 release, “to ensure no patient is forced to wait for critical care.”

— Jano Nakhla