I’ve donated blood twice in my life. In both instances, I was in my late teens.
Why did I do it? Because I could. I was old enough, and healthy enough, to do something as “grown up” as give blood.
Of course, my altruism wasn’t without an ulterior motive. The first time I donated, I was in high school. My school was hosting a blood drive during class hours. Between a needle and Trig/Pre-Calc, the needle was the lesser of two evils.
And then there was the promise of refreshments — cookies and juice! I rarely turn down free snacks. Especially cookies.
Over the years, I would see advertisements for local blood drives taking place in my area, yet I wouldn’t go to them. Why not? I’m busy. I’m not interested at the moment. I don’t feel well enough to give blood. I had my excuses.
Perhaps I figured that I had given blood
once twice already, and that sufficiently fulfilled any Bucket List quota.
But this week, I rolled up my sleeve, ready and willing to endure the prick of a needle in order to help save the life of a loved one.
Perhaps it was because I had that experience as a blood donor that I was so willing to step up and give a little piece of myself, especially for someone so dear to me. It also helped that I easily remembered my blood type, thanks to memorizing the information on my blood donor card and my interest in Japanese culture.
Ultimately, as ready as I was to do it, I did not end up donating blood. It came down to timing. Due to a dangerously low hemoglobin count, medical staff had to act quickly. By the time it would have taken for them to draw my blood and then test it to make sure it was safe to use, it may have been too late to save that life.
Fortunately, the nurses acquired several pints of blood for the transfusion, via a local blood bank.
It was certainly one of those “until it happens in front of me” moments. Sure, I knew I was doing something good by giving blood when I was an idiot teenager, but I was also thinking of what I could get out of it (a pass from math class and free snacks).
That day, I understood how important blood donation truly is. I saw it save a life.
Those anonymous volunteers have no idea how grateful my family and I are for their donations. Even if they were mainly in it for the refreshments or ditching class like I once was, the fact remains that they helped someone in need.
For the first time in nearly 12 years, I’m going to give blood. No more silly excuses. Even though I won’t be donating blood specifically for that loved one, now I’ll be doing so in honor of her and those who saved her.
If you are healthy and able, I encourage you to consider donating blood. You could be the reason someone gets another chance at life.
I’m inspired! Where do I sign up?
You can visit aabb.org to look for your nearest blood bank. If mobile blood drives are more your speed, you can check out the American Red Cross. I’ve found a couple of blood drives taking place near me in the next few weeks, including one at my university, which is where I last relinquished some of those red cells!
For some facts about blood donation in general, enlighten yourself via this snazzy infographic:
Til next Monday!