Central DeWitt High School senior Abby Lippens donates blood at the school’s National Honor Society (NHS) blood drive in December. Lippens, a member of NHS, officially became a one-gallon blood donor after she gave blood.

When Abby Lippens graduates from Central DeWitt High School this spring, she’ll have a number of accomplishments on which she can look back with pride.

The 18-year-old daughter of Jamie and Amy Lippens, of DeWitt, is a straight-A student involved in volleyball, National Honor Society (NHS), Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and 4-H.

Lippens has also been accepted at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where she plans to major in biology, her first step on the “pre-medicine track.”

Just before Christmas, she added yet another achievement to her list … Lippens became a one-gallon blood donor.

Each year, Central DeWitt’s NHS chapter holds three blood drives: during spring parent-teacher conferences, in the summertime and one on the last day of school before Christmas break.

Students, staff and area community members are encouraged to attend and give the gift of life.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions in December, the event was held at the DeWitt Community Center.

By the time Lippens was through giving her approximately one-pint of blood, she had reached the one-gallon milestone.

LeAnn DePue, Central DeWitt’s NHS adviser, said it is unique for a student to have donated a gallon of blood by December of her senior year.

“It doesn’t usually happen that early,” DePue related. “It’s usually not until the last blood drive of the school year, or when students come back to donate after they’ve already graduated.”

It was at Central DeWitt’s NHS blood drive Dec. 21, 2018, that Lippens donated for the very first time.

She was 16 years old at the time. Her reason for donating was deeply personal, and was her way of returning the favor to others who donated blood to help save the life of someone very special to her — her mom.

“I first got inspired to donate by my mom,” Lippens shared. “When she had cancer, she had so many blood transfusions. Since she had cancer, she can’t donate blood, so I am doing it for her and to honor those who helped her. That’s what piqued my interest in donating.”

Not only did Amy have Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, she also beat it three times — in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Grateful to have her mom still in her life, Lippens said the decision to donate was pretty simple. Yet, like many who donate for the first time, she had a few concerns.

“I was so nervous that I would get deferred, as I have had iron problems in the past, and have been deferred numerous times as my hemoglobin didn’t reach the 12.5 mark that is needed to donate,” Lippens explained. 

But, now that she has donated eight times, Lippens said it feels amazing to know she has helped eight people.

She understands the reluctance to give blood. But the bottom line, Lippens noted, is doing so saves lives.

“Giving blood is the most selfless gift that you can give to someone,” she related. “You can help one person, or multiple people if you donate plasma, red blood cells and platelets. Giving blood gives me a feeling that is hard to describe … I am making a difference and helping save lives. 

“I donate to help people who need it, just like the people who donated blood and platelets to my mom when she was in need of it, which helped save her life,” Lippens said. “I think about who I could be helping all the time … it would be someone completely random, or someone close to home. I enjoy helping people and will continue to keep donating blood for as long as I can.”