LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Southwest Louisiana Charter Academy isn't only a school, today, it was a life saver.
"Some of our students are actually hospitalized for a week at a time to have blood transfusions," said co-principal Jacqueline Smith. "So, we're able to donate our blood to give life to our students."
The academy hosted a Valentine's Day blood drive to help raise blood donations for students who need frequent blood transfusions due to specific illnesses. For 11-year-old Kiara Richard, sickle cell anemia has resulted in frequent trips to the hospital and a constant need for blood.
"Blood is just one of those products that you have to receive a lot of because you're constantly giving it out so it's very important," said co-principal Lorette Bass.
But Kiara didn't let her condition ruin her Valentine's Day. She spent the day alongside her mom and friends and even took time to give advice to other kids with sickle cell.
"Do stuff that make you happy," said Richard. "Go outside and play with your friends. Read a book or go to the library."
Children's Clinic of Southwest Louisiana nurse practitioner Beth Savoie says children with sickle cell suffer both socially and physically. But she says Richard doesn't let the disease bring her down.
"It's kind of funny though, when she comes in, we tell her, "You don't have to get a finger poke," and she's like "Yay!," so, she gets excited," said Savoie. "She understands her disease so when she comes in, she'll know whenever she needs to go to the hospital or she kind of knows when she's sick or when she's not sick."
Life Blood Center offers opportunities for students including scholarship programs. For more information, CLICK HERE.