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Students ask ‘heroes’ to give blood

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Donate blood, save lives and be a superhero.

This is the message three Somersfield Academy students are spreading with their community service project “Blood for the People”.

Through a dedicated website and social media campaign, Jahzara Pluck-Ming, Nadia Attride-Ramella and Shelby Madeiros want to raise awareness for the need for blood donors in Bermuda, as well highlight the simplicity and benefits of donating.

“We chose something a lot of people would frown upon and not want to do,” Jahzara said, adding that many think donating blood is painful or stressful — a perception the girls hope to change.

Shelby said: “It's a tiny little needle and it hurts less than a shot — the team really take good care of you.

“At the end of the day, you are saving someone's life and making a real difference to the community. Really, you are being a hero.”

The trio set out to increase the local donor pool by about five per cent, but even a small increase would make a difference, Nadia said.

The Year 9 students also want to raise awareness for the need for blood donors among the island's youth, who cannot donate until they turn 16.

“If we get them interested they will want to donate in the future,” Jahzara said, adding that they will also be able to spread the message to their parents.

To this aim, the girls have created an Instagram account with more than 120 followers.

And one girl has already reached out to them directly to find out how she could help. While she was too young, she convinced her father to donate.

According to the girls, there has been a decline of donors in the community and Bermuda Hospitals Board consultant haematologist Eyitayo Fakunle agreed, stating that the need for donors was increasing as present donors are ageing, retiring from donating and new blood transmissible infections are emerging that makes some present donors ineligible. Dr Fakunle said the hospital needed about 35 blood donors per week to keep up the supply.

“They get them some weeks, then other weeks they don't have any,” Jahzara said. “We just need people to donate to stop that trend.”

But Nadia stressed that blood only has a shelf-life of 42 days, which means the hospital “consistently needs donors”.

A consistent supply would also mean less blood would have to be imported, Shelby added.

Both Nadia and Shelby's grandmothers used to donate blood, which sparked their interest for the project.

The girls, who selected King Edward VII Memorial Hospital as their community partner, met with and interviewed the blood donor team, were given a tour of the department by Dr Fakunle and also spoke with the public relations staff.

“We've learnt so much with this project,” Nadia said. “It's amazing.”

In addition to creating a social media account, the trio have designed a website, videos, stickers, flyers and posters. They will also be launching a two-week blood drive at a presentation to Somersfield Academy's middle school assembly on Monday, which will also be attended by the hospital's blood donor team.

This will feature a competition between the two school houses and prizes for the one that recruits the most donors.

The girls also hope to take their campaign to television with a 15-minute show in CITV's health and family section. Once they turn 16, all three aspire to become blood donors.

“It's the easiest way to help your community,” Nadia said. “And save a life,” Jahzara added.

A BHB spokeswoman said they and the Blood Donor Centre in particular, were delighted with the girls' project.

While the girls initially wanted to donate themselves, they explained that they were too young and instead encouraged them to have a publicity campaign.

• For more information, visit www.procrastinatingnow.wix.com/bloodforbermuda

Somersfield Academy students Jahzara Pluck-Ming, Nadia Attride-Ramella, and Shelby Medeiros are raising awareness for the importance of blood donations. (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published February 25, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated February 25, 2016 at 2:01 pm)

Students ask ‘heroes’ to give blood

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