Two high school seniors studying health sciences at the Academy for Technology and Academics helped raise awareness about blood cancers and the desperate need for bone marrow donations by planning and conducting a bone marrow drive at the school.
Kiera Poole and Victoria Mason not only raised community awareness, they added 25 people to the National Bone Marrow Registry.
“I’m very proud of them,” said Teresa Nirenstein, who teaches Poole and Mason in the pre-med class.
Poole, a senior at Carolina Forest High School, hopes to become an occupational therapist. Mason, a senior at Loris High School, hopes to become a veterinarian.
Both students plan to travel to Charleston with other Heath Occupation Students of America (HOSA) from the school on Wednesday. Their bone marrow donor drive will be entered in competition with projects from other students around the state during a HOSA convention there.
Poole and Mason decided to have a drive after learning that blood cancers are the second leading cause of death in America. “And because there are a lot of people needing transplants,” Mason said. “We wanted to raise community awareness about marrow drives and why they are necessary.”
Poole said she wanted to get involved in the bone marrow donor drive because she likes helping people. “I’m a very generous person,” she said.
The drive could only be held schoolwide, and they had 12 people to swab their mouths. Poole and Mason then followed the procedures necessary to get the person registered as a donor. A mouth swab is all it takes to register to be a donor.
Nirenstein said they were allowed to get some donors who were guests during a recent open house at the school, which took their total number of potential donors to 25. Some of those who were visiting for the open house had family members with cancer who had been helped by others, and they wanted to help someone else because of that, Nerenstein said.
With 18 usually being the youngest age a person can be included in the bone marrow registry, Poole and Mason were somewhat limited, but they still got a good number of swabs for a drive and increased the potential donors list on the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry, thereby increasing the likelihood that several victims of blood cancers could have new chances at life.
Eight HOSA students at the school also organized and ran blood drives for the American Red Cross in October and January. A third drive is planned for May 7. So far, they already have collected 97 pints of blood, of which 92 pints are usable.