The Madras High School student body sponsored a Red Cross blood drive at the school March 20, with 89 students turning out to donate, 59 of whom were first-time donors.
The drive, organized by student body officers, surpassed its 60-unit goal by collecting 83 units of blood, enough to potentially help 249 patients.
The Red Cross collection operation supervisor for the drive was former MHS student Ivan Gomez, who graduated in 1998.
Sophomore Kati Dawalt said this was her first time to donate blood. "I've been wanting to do it since last year, but I wasn't old enough," she said, noting you have to be 16 and have a parent's consent.
Several students were being hand-selected by Gomez to be part of a new "double red cell" procedure.
"Just a certain number of donors who meet the requirements are chosen," Gomez said, noting students had to be within certain weight, height and blood iron levels.
The double red cell process allows people to donate two units of red blood cells during one appointment, since only the red cells are collected.
The remaining blood plasma, plus saline solution, are returned to the donor. "Donors leave more hydrated than when they came in," Gomez said.
The procedure takes longer though, at 35 minutes, than a regular donation, which takes eight minutes, he noted. People can only make double donations three times a year, instead of six, cutting down their visits to blood drives.
"We're focusing on (high demand) O-positive and O-negative blood, but can also do A-negative and B-negative blood," Gomez said.
With double red cell donations, donors contribute as much in one visit as they previously did in two, and red blood cells are what is most needed by patients requiring transfusions.
The MHS drive collected 20 red cell units and 63 units of whole blood.