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Student-led blood drive to take place July 26 in Aurora

AURORA – While many kids are relaxing and enjoying summer activities, Heartland Blood Centers is excited to have 14 student workers participating in the organization's life-saving mission, stated a news release from Heartland.

"These students have amazing careers ahead of them, and not only are they working for the summer, but they are [also] learning all facets of the blood industry," stated the release. "End game – a student-run blood drive to save lives in their community. The drive planning includes project management, budgeting, marketing, communications, recruitment and drawing of blood."

As a blood donor recipient, Justin Poythress, a student worker at Heartland this summer, knows firsthand the importance of blood donation. During his senior year of high school, he contracted E-coli, which developed into hemolytic-uremic syndrome, stated the release.

The condition caused Poythress' body to abnormally destroy his red blood cells as they were blocking the filtering system in his kidneys. His platelet count was incredibly low; his kidneys began to shut down; and he went from being a normal, healthy 18-year-old to being bedridden in the intensive care unit, stated the release.

"Thankfully, Justin has recovered fully and says, 'I thank God for my friends, family, my doctors, and especially the anonymous blood donors who I will never be able to thank in person. Helping with the student blood drive is a way to give back to the community for the volunteers who gave blood so I could live,'" stated the release.

Poythress will return to Butler University this fall, majoring in accounting and finance.

The theme for the upcoming blood drive is "The Carnival That Saves Lives." The event will take place July 26 at Heartland’s Aurora donor center at 1200 N. Highland Ave.

"This drive could not come at a better time, as last week Heartland Blood Centers issued a critical appeal for blood donors when inventory levels reached a dangerously low point," stated the release. "While we are grateful for the donor response, demand continues to be elevated, and it is vital that donations remain strong to prevent continued shortages."

Amy Smith, director of donor recruitment for Heartland Blood Centers, said summer usually brings a decrease in blood donations.

"However, this year the gap is significantly larger due to an uptick in patient traumas," she said in the release. "These ongoing occurrences, coupled with normal hospital usage, have created a transfusion demand that is far outpacing blood donations. We are inspired by the young people in this year’s student worker program and their commitment to saving lives, and we invite the community to support them with a life-saving blood donation.”

The goal of the student blood drive is to have 300 donors participate, helping to offset continued critical demand needs. To make a blood donation more convenient, Heartland Blood Centers will have extended hours on July 26 at the Aurora location – from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

As a thank you, all donors will receive a special-edition, carnival-themed T-shirt designed by the students and a Target gift card, along with food, games and raffles.

To make an appointment, call 800-786-4483, go online at or text "APPT" to 444-999.

Also, Heartland will give back to students this summer with the 2017 Student Saving Lives Summer Scholarship. Students 17 to 21 years old, who will be attending a two- or four-year post-secondary institution, will have the opportunity to win one of five $1,000 scholarships during the contest period, which ends Aug. 31. Each student who enters must make a successful blood donation; however, he or she can have unlimited entries from anyone that donates on their behalf. Full details can be found at

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