Albany High helps save lives

Elyse Roepe and Jakiem Walden sit side-by-side

Albany High School held its first blood drive of the school year on Wednesday, and students, staff, the superintendent, community members and family members (three generations, in one case!) rolled up their sleeves to donate life-saving blood.

Senior Elyse Roepe and junior Jakiem Walden (pictured at right) are this year’s student blood drive coordinators under the guidance of librarian Alicia Abdul.

Walden made his first blood donation Wednesday – a power red donation that allowed him to donate twice as many red blood cells as a single donation. Junior Joseph Rizzo also donated his first pint at Wednesday’s drive, and his mom Jennifer and grandmother Joanne gave blood at the same time.

Keeping it in the family, Roepe’s mother Eileen stopped by the drive to donate. In addition, Superintendent Kaweeda G. Adams made room in her schedule to donate, as did numerous Albany High students and staffers.

For the first time, Albany High is taking part in a new Red Cross initiative to combat sickle cell anemia called "Sickle Cell Fighter High School Scholarship Program." Walden will coordinate this effort, which focuses on signing up students and staff and having them identify their race to encourage more Black donors and diversify the blood supply.

According to the Red Cross, many Black individuals have unique protein structures on their red blood cells that make their donations the most compatible blood, with reduced risk of complications.

Students who recruit the most Black donors will be in the running for the Sickle Cell Fighter High School Scholarship Program. That's in addition to the annual Red Cross scholarship for student blood drive coordinators if the three annual drives meet their donation goal.

One blood donation can help save more than one life, according to the Red Cross.

Take a look at some Facebook photos from the blood drive(You don't need a Facebook account to see the pictures linked in the highlighted text. A window may appear that says, “To see more from Albany City Schools on Facebook, log on or create an account,” but you can dismiss it by clicking “not now.”)