Saving a life is easier than one might think. Vitalant set up and held a blood drive in T.F. Riggs High School’s theater entryway for half a day October 8.

Donating blood could potentially save three peoples’ lives, and it only take 45 minutes of your time, according to phlebotomist Brittany Refsland, 30, from Aberdeen.

“I get to save lives everyday,” Refsland said. “Not in the way a doctor does, but I get too.”

Refsland feels more of the population should donate.

At least once a month, Vitalant, one of the nation’s oldest non-profit community blood services sets up in the Pierre community, according to their website.

At T.F. Riggs High School Tuesday, students and the public were encouraged to donate blood, and some participated for their first time.

Three sport athlete, student and now first time blood donor, Cade Hinkle, 18, from Pierre donated some of his blood.

“Fine. Normal,” Hinkle said. It’s like getting a flu shot.”

Hinkle’s favorite subject, when he isn’t playing linebacker, wrestling at 145 pounds or playing catcher is math, Advanced Math Concepts, and now he can calculate how many people he could potentially save through his lifetime of being a donor.

Another phlebotomist on duty at T.F. Riggs, Miranda Nissen from Aberdeen, prefers blood drives over working in hospitals because it is a faster paced environment.

“High schools are great,” Nissen said. “They bring us new donors.”

Nissen’s patient at the time was donating for his second time.

Addison Westergn, 17, from Pierre, who’s favorite class is history, was relaxed and swiping through his phone while pumping out his pint’s worth. Westergn felt this experience was better than his first, thanks to Nissen.

“Actually, yeah,” Westergn said. “’Cause you didn’t stab me a ton of times.

Greeting donors as they entered, sat both the student council president, Nolan Rounds, and his vice president, Emma Lusk. Both are juniors and enjoy math as their favorite subject with Mr. Schwarz. Both have been in their current positions on the student coucnil all three years of high school so far.

With support from the students, Refsland was pleased about the general outcome of the day.

There were 46 people, of the 59 who showed up to donate, able to donate their blood totaling the take in at 46 pints of blood.

Refsland feels getting students involved is a good way to help everyone. It allows the students to contribute in ways they didn’t even know they could.

The blood supply is completely reliant on donors and while Vitalant says they try to keep at least five days of blood on hand of all the blood types, being one of the only providers of blood to 70 hospitals in the region means the people in the community need to show up.

Around 30 percent of the blood collected goes to cancer patients in the region, according to a Vitalant press release.

It is a constant struggle to keep enough blood on hand, especially O-negative, the universal donor, but it is worth the effort.

“I love it,” Refsland said. “How do you not.”

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