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Giving Back On Her 16th Birthday

Molly Avila, a student at Clayton Valley High School, organized a blood day for her Sweet Sixteenth

Molly Avila isn't spending her 16th birthday at the Department of Motor Vehicles getting her driver's license.

She isn't at a big birthday party with friends or out on a date with a boyfriend.

The sophomore at is spending her Sweet Sixteenth overseeing a blood drive she organized for the American Red Cross.

"I really think people need to donate blood. It's a good thing to do," said Avila.

The American Red Cross mobile blood lab set up shop outside the offices of 5439 Clayton Road, near the corner of Ygnacio Valley Road and Clayton Road.

The blood lab was there from noon until 6 p.m. Thursday. It ended up receiving 32 units of blood, more than the 25 units the Red Cross had hoped for.

Avila has personal reasons for her crusade. When she was 17 months old, she was run over by a car. She suffered a collapsed lung and a severed liver. She lost 50 percent of the blood in her body and needed multiple transfusions.

Although she can't remember the incident, the need for donated blood is something close to her heart. Since 2009, the teen has been organizing blood drives. This is her fourth.

She held one earlier this year, which netted 91 donors. However, that fell short of the 122 donors she was hoping to get to break her one-day record of 121.

So, Avila thought it would be a great idea to celebrate her 16th birthday by organizing a blood drive to get those extra 31 donors and more, a goal she accomplished.

Avila is hoping to donate herself. It's her first day of eligibility. You have to be 16 to donate. However, Red Cross officials weren't sure as of mid-afternoon if the teen would meet the height and weight requirements.

Avila's mother, Monica Fraga, was one of the first to donate today. When Patch editor David Mills was in the van giving blood, three other donors were there, too.

Justin Mueller, the director of donor resources development for the American Red Cross' Northern California region, said 39 percent of the population is eligible to give blood. Nationwide, 5 percent of those eligible donate. In the Bay Area, it's only 3 percent.

The 30 hospitals in the Bay Area the Red Cross supplies need 130,000 units of blood a year. However, the regional chapter only has 90,000 units to provide. The rest comes from outside the area.

Mueller said that's why it's so important to have a young person like Avila pushing the cause.

"Her story is so compelling that to have her as an advocate is invaluable," said Mueller.

Patch will update this story this evening with the number of donors at Avila's Sweet Sixteenth blood drive.

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