OK, I don’t. The phlebotomist does. And it’s usually every couple of months. 56 days is the rule of thumb, and I am talking about giving blood. As amazing as modern science is, there’s not, to the best of my knowledge, a universal, medically approved substitute for human blood. While that may not mean much to most of us, to those who have had traumatic accidents or even those whose bodies just don’t make the proper amount of blood, it can mean a lot, maybe even the difference between life and death.
That’s why I try to donate blood as often as I can. There is a blood drive about every 2 months, conveniently located just down the road from my office. The front desk lady at the church where it’s held is nice, the staff is efficient and friendly, and the process usually only takes about an hour. The long drawn out paperwork has been replaced by RapidPass, which allows the donor to complete the necessary questions prior to arrival and really speeds up the pre-donation process.
That little pin in the photo? That’s my 2-gallon pin, and although that means that I have donated 2 gallons of blood over time, I’m embarrassed. I should be at 10 gallons by now, had I stayed in the habit.
People say “I can’t even. I don’t like needles, doesn’t it hurt?” Well, I don’t love needles either, so I don’t look when they put the needle in. It doesn’t hurt, per se… especially if you tell yourself it doesn’t hurt. But you know what? Even if it DID hurt a little, SO WHAT? The people who will receive this aptly-named “gift of life” may have been in an awful accident or may have complications from surgery…
I think of “my people” when I donate. Makes it super-easy. Someone incredibly dear to me was in a lawnmower accident as a toddler. I interviewed a farmer who lost both legs in a grisly silage-chopper accident. My dad is a stroke victim and his body doesn’t produce enough blood, so periodically he finds himself in the hospital, running “a quart low” and receiving transfusions made possible by donors.
So, if you’re thinking about donating blood and are able to do so, I urge you to roll up your sleeve. To find a donor center or bloodmobile near you, visit www.redcrossblood.org. It’s something you can do that won’t cost you a dime but could save lives. What better “pay it forward” could there be?
Oh, and they have cookies after.