If you had the ability to save someone’s life with about an hour of your time, would you do it? Yes, that’s a loaded question, but the reason I’m asking it is because far too many people’s actions say no. What am I talking about? Something that I’ve been doing since I was in high school: donating blood.
An article in today’s The Morning Call says that the Lehigh Valley’s blood supply is “at ’emergency’ low”. It seems like the Summer always brings this around and though as a region we manage to get through it, I can’t imagine being someone in need of a transfusion and being told that there’s no blood available. As I stated earlier, I’ve been donating blood since high school. During the early days I would donate whenever there was a blood drive at the high school or my college campus. I had known that I was eligible to donate every eight weeks, but unless there was a blood drive on campus, I never looked into where I could donate. Only after graduation from college did I learn that there were blood centers across the area, including one very close to my office.
I still remember the first time I donated at a blood center instead of during a blood drive. I was taken to a private screening room where I was expecting the usual round of medical questions when the technician said “oh, you’re a baby donor, great!” I responded saying “this is a blood center, right?” She just gave me a look and when I told her that I had no intention of making a sperm donation she laughed and told me that being a baby donor meant that I have special blood. Baby donors are CMV negative, which means that in situations where normal adult blood may be harmful to an infant’s delicate immune system, baby donor blood is safe. That combined with me being type O- and having low cholesterol it means that the blood center loves me. I won’t lie, knowing that my blood is being used to help defenseless, sick, little babies is a big motivator for me to donate. After all, they’re babies. No matter what is wrong with them, it can’t be their fault.
Unfortunately, stuff like that is an excuse I’ve heard from people as a reason not to donate blood. “I’m not going to donate blood so some drunk driver who killed someone’s life can be saved.” Really? REALLY? I can’t really comment on that kind of mentality, but I will respond to some of the other reasons I’ve heard for people to not donate. One is that there are some arcane policies in place that prevent someone from being able to donate blood. What are some of these policies? Some have to do with where you’ve traveled, if you’ve had certain types of surgeries, or if you’re gay. Yes, as a friend likes to remind me, in the year 2011, even with all of the advanced screening in place, there are policies in place that are out of the hands of the people running your local blood center that prevent homosexuals from donating blood. I don’t want this to turn into a discussion about why I feel something like that is wrong on multiple levels, but unless you’ve been in a part of the world that’s been disease ridden, or there’s a ridiculous law keeping you from donating, please consider it.
“But i’m afraid of needles,” you say. Then don’t look at it! I know I don’t, and I’m not afraid of needles. “It’s going to hurt,” is another reason I hear, a lot. I’ll let you in on a little secret. The most painful part of the process is when they prick your finger to test your iron levels. This happens at the very beginning of the screening process. It hurts more because of the density of the nerves at the tips of your fingers. If you can get past that, you’ll be fine. “I don’t have time,” is the other common reason I hear for not donating. It takes roughly an hour and blood centers have very accommodating hours of operation.
If you live in the Lehigh Valley, Miller-Keystone Blood Center is the sole provider of blood to our local hospitals. If you’re not legally prohibited from donating and you don’t have a cold, call your local blood center and schedule an appointment to donate today. In about an hour, you’ll be a real life hero.