By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — About one hundred students, teachers, and parents rolled up their sleeves today at Imhotep Institute Charter High School, in Northwest Philadelphia, to donate blood for sickle-cell anemia victims.
Some were nervous first-timers.
“I’m scared of needles,” one female student blood donor admitted.
But nervous or not, they donated.
The student-organized, student-run blood drive, administered by the Red Cross, could be a lifesaver for some of the tens of thousands of African-Americans with sickle-cell anemia.
“One donation can actually save three lives,” says Debbie Toney-Moore, who works at Imhotep. She says the school has organized the blood drive four years in a row, with a focus on sickle-cell, because the disease hits close to home.
“Some of our students have sickle-cell, and they have to deal with getting blood transfusions,” says Moore, “so it’s really close to our heart.”
Moore says Red Cross will take the day’s donations and separate the blood cells, platelets, and plasma, specifically designating the products for sickle-cell patients.
“It’s a very painful disease,” says Moore, “and (patients) are often turned away because the blood bank doesn’t have enough donors. So it means a lot that this blood will go to help our own community.”
Moore says the school encourages students over age 16 to donate blood, with the hope of changing the culture within the African-American community that shies away from donating.
“When the students go home talking about how they donated blood,” says Moore, “it’ll motivate their parents.”
Tyvon Mackey, 18, a senior at Imhotep, donated blood today for the first time.
“It feels good being able to help somebody, being able to save a life,” he said afterward.