Oak Forest teen makes giving blood her mission
BY CHERYL DANGEL BARTOLINI Correspondent September 21, 2012 3:16PM
Ann Huet, an Oak Forest High School student, regularly donates blood for burn and cancer victims. | Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 25, 2012 6:01AM
Ann Huet enjoys being a difference-maker, and the way she does it is different from most, too.
Huet donates blood on a regular basis for burn and cancer victims.
For years, Huet, 17, wanted to donate, but she had to wait until she turned 16. Once she did, the Oak Forest High School student made it her business to regularly visit Heartland Blood Centers, 16100 Centennial Circle in Tinley Park.
Around the center, Huet, the daughter of MaryEllen and Joe Huet, was well-known even before she turned 16. As a little girl, she would regularly accompany her father to the blood center and talk to him while he donated.
“My dad was in a bad motorcycle accident and was in a coma for two months. He had many blood transfusions and says that he survived because of blood donations. Now he’s been donating for probably 30 years,” Huet said. “They’d tell me that when I got older, I could donate, too. It was then that I realized what I could do to help other people.”
A little more than a year after her first donation, Huet now donates blood every two weeks if she can.
“If I can’t donate on my two-week interval because my iron count isn’t high enough or whatever, I make sure I schedule an appointment for as soon as I can afterward,” she said. “When I donate, I go with my dad. I get to spend time with my dad and we’re both doing something to benefit other people. It is a good feeling.”
Heartland Blood Centers also works with Oak Forest High School, where Huet is a senior, to encourage students to donate.
“If you donate six times by the time you graduate high school, you wear a red tassel. I’ve already met that goal,” said Huet, who has donated more than 15 times in the last year. “I try to convince my friends to go. A couple donate, but others are afraid of needles and long lines.”
At Oak Forest, Huet is executive board president, a member of student council, National Honor Society, mathletes, International Club and Interact Club. She also plays softball and participates in track.
Next year, she wants to pursue a career in neuroscience and is considering attending the University of California-San Diego.
“I hate the snow, and currently (UC-San Diego) has the third-best neurosciences program in the nation,” Huet said.
Her counselor at school, Jennifer Ambrose, is also a mentor, Huet said.
“When I’m concerned about colleges I’m looking at, she will talk to me about it. She’ll look at my grades and will recommend things that will benefit me in the long run,” Huet said.
Donating blood, she said, will remain a constant in her life. And her plans to give back don’t stop there.
“When I turn 18, I plan on signing up for the organ donor list or bone marrow list — whatever I can,” she said.
Huet said her dad instilled in her how important it is to help others.
“I can see how donating blood saves lives and what it does for people,” she said. “One blood donation can help up to three people, and that is just one of the 24 donations you can do in a year.”