DAGSBORO, Del. – Indian River High School sophomore Benjamin Parsons’ mission was twofold at Blood Bank of Delmarva’s (BBD) Dagsboro Donor Center on Wednesday, March 6.

Benjamin Parsons donating blood.

Benjamin had an appointment to donate blood for the first time, and he had an assignment to write an article about BBD for the local paper, the Sussex Post.

With his successful donation with Supervisor, Collections Joshua Armstrong, Benjamin joined the ranks of 16-year-olds donating for the first time ever at BBD.

Last year, Delaware joined 46 other states in passing legislation that allows 16-year-olds to donate blood, with parental permission. Therefore, this is the first school year BBD allows 16-year-olds to donate blood.

His mother, Michelle Parsons, brought him to Dagsboro, and she signed the consent form.

Benjamin Parsons and BBD's Tony Prado.

“It opens up opportunities for young people like myself to donate and help others,” Benjamin said. “It helps build character. It’s a way to give back.

“It was a very pleasant experience,” he added. “The staff was very kind to me.”

So, why did he donate?

“My grandmother had O negative blood, and she always made a point to donate,” Benjamin said. “I admire her, and I wanted to follow in her footsteps.”

About 20% of the country’s blood supply comes from youth donors, so BBD leadership was excited to have introduced the lifesaving act of blood donation to 16-year-olds in Delaware this school year. Since the pandemic in 2020, youth donations have dropped by nearly 50% nationwide.

“We’re hopeful that the change to allow 16-year-olds to donate in Delaware will increase our donations from the youth population and instill a lifelong dedication to saving lives,” BBD Executive Director Steve Corse said. Benjamin plans to donate for the second time in May.

Benjamin Parsons, his mother Michelle, and BBD's Tony Prado.