MEMPHIS, Tenn. — From lockdowns to school closures — we are all recovering from the pandemic.
Hospitals are also recovering from critically low blood supplies. It’s an issue one Memphis student is working to combat.

Right now, Eleanor Merchant walks the halls of Hutchison School in Memphis as an 11th grader — when she grows up she hopes to walk the halls of a research facility.

“I’m really interested in medical sciences and biology,” Eleanor said.

Passion for the medical field is pushing Eleanor to put on Hutchison’s first blood drive – allowing students, staff and parents to help save lives.

“The pandemic had seriously affected blood supply nationwide and seeing the stress local hospitals are under – I really wanted to find a way to help with that,” Eleanor said.

Over the years we’ve covered the stress local hospitals are under. In 2020, more than 4,000 blood drives were canceled nationwide — resulting in more than 130,000 fewer blood donations because of COVID.

“A lot of donors at our drive – it was their first time ever giving blood so it was really exciting to be able to introduce people to those kind of opportunities and volunteer opportunities,” Eleanor said.

“If [a] student didn’t meet criteria, she organized a whole volunteer sheet and set up so you could still participate by passing out snacks or greeting people,” Helen Guyton said, director of Hutchison Serves.

With the help of Helen Guyton the blood drive was a success — Eleanor said around 80 people were helped.

“To see a young woman so driven and capable and really putting her passion and interest into action, she’s not just thinking about it but taking action and making something really awesome,” Helen said.

“My goal was to let people know that they can contribute to the community – they can make a meaningful impact on those around them whether it’s helping a friend day to day or giving your blood. It’s helping people,” Eleanor said.

Next year, Eleanor plans to put on another drive and start mentoring other students so it can continue after she graduates in 2023.

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