In college I habitually donated blood. I know as an A+ my blood isn't that rare but I still always try and give whenever I can. I donated whenever the Red Cross came to campus or when I was home and my church did more blood drives. Needles don't bother me and I love that I can help someone just by sitting in a chair for half an hour at most. I proudly rock my oversized I Donated tshirt (or umbrella... or free mini first aid kit... or sticker!).
I have deep veins so it's not always easy for the phlebotomist to find a good place to start. More than once I've had people look at both arms, pause, then go grab someone who obviously has done it longer or has a trick or two to get me started.
The only times I haven't donated since I turned 17 were the years following each of my tattoos. Otherwise anytime I see a notice or the Red Cross calls me, I go.
Yesterday at work I got an email saying they'd be doing a blood drive at the exchange with the Armed Services Blood Program. I didn't have work today and I'd be going to the commissary anyway so I decided to stop by.
My biggest worry is always passing my iron test to donate. At least on two occasions I was unable to donate because my iron count was too low, once even by one point. Today I was nervous about that but I passed my iron test. Unfortunately I was so nervous about that my heart rate was too high and they made me sit for ten minutes until it lowered. Oops.
Today was an extra deep vein day for my arms and I sadly had to be stuck in the same arm twice... a first. I've had to switch arms before but never twice in one arm! Oy.
Regardless I donated and enjoyed my Rice Krispy treat and powerade after. And a free tshirt.
It's the little things that are sometimes the most important. It may not seem like much but I am proud to be someone who habitually donates blood. I hope to one day donate platelets too. I'm also signed up for the national bone marrow registry.
Important Facts: (aka why to donate!)
- Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
- More than 44,000 blood donations are needed every day.
- A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S. (2006).
- The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
- The blood type most often requested by hospitals is Type O.
- The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs.
- Sickle cell disease affects more than 80,000 people in the U.S., 98 percent of whom are African American. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.
- More than 1 million new people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
- A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.
To find a donation center in your area check the Red Cross website or just keep your ears open. They're everywhere! A small thing to save a life... or three!