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Posted Sep 16, 2011, 10:10 am
PHOENIX – Diagnosed with leukemia at age 11, Tommy Frasier is alive six years later in large part because he’s been able to receive 85 blood transfusions. With his cancer in remission, he continues to receive a transfusion every month.
He’s well aware that quite a bit of that blood has come from people his age.
“Without you guys, we can all face the facts that I wouldn’t be here today,” Frasier, a senior at Basha High School in Chandler said Wednesday to those attending a luncheon honoring high school blood donors.
The 176 high schools across the state that held blood drives for United Blood Services recruited 22,045 blood donations last school year, tripling the 8,352 units of blood donated at high schools in 2002. The organization’s High School Challenge Awards Luncheon, held at Chase Field, honored students for their success.
Frasier, a keynote speaker, said he learned after his mother rushed him to the hospital with a swollen knee that he had leukemia. It took nearly four years of treatment to put the disease in check.
“I thank you guys because you get those thousands of people to donate the blood to me and people like me,” Frasier said.
Arizona high school students are the leading group of blood donors in the state, providing one out of every 10 blood transfusions. After a 2008 law lowered the age to donate with parental consent from 17 to 16, boosting donations.
Carla Fields, director of donor recruitment for United Blood Services, said it’s “frightening” to think of meeting demand for blood without teenage donors.
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“If we did not have certain inventory we would not be able to save as many lives in Arizona that we do,” Fields said.
Ray Perkins, former professional football player and assistant principal at Dobson High School in Mesa, told students that while professional athletes may be perceived as heroes, young people who donate blood deserve that title.
“Others not in this room are benefactors of your legacy,” he said.