Blood Donation: The Gift of Life

February 27, 2012 by  
Filed under On Life and Living

Slowly overtaken by the dreadful realization that I might have to answer “yes” to one of the questions, the interrogation continued.  “Have you taken anything containing aspirin during the past 48 hours?  Traveled to Great Britain or Europe?  How about South America?”  I understood that just one “yes” meant that I would be unable to complete my mission.  One affirmative answer and I would have to leave feeling unhelpful and small.  Have you been diagnosed with the HIV virus, had sex with a prostitute, or used a needle to inject illegal drugs?”

These questions continued for quite some time.  They inquired about many things that I had never done… never even seen or heard about anyone doing.  Between question 40 and 50, I wondered about the questions themselves.  What kind of people take this test?  What have I gotten myself into?

These questions are just part of the preamble to becoming a blood donor.  If all the questions are answered correctly, then a walk across the large room and an eventual seat in a reclining station transform the potential donor into a real live donor.  The background check finished, I now had a few moments to glance at my arm and wonder exactly where they might stick me with the needle.  A small snack and some juice provide the energy boost that helps insure a seamless experience… one that doesn’t end with lightheadedness or fainting.  Those already donating lay back and squeeze a ball as their blood runs out through a tube and are deposited into a hanging bag.  Some donors attempt small talk, but most simply gaze around the room and observe the comings and goings of the staff and patrons.

These people have come to help.  They have come to give.  It is human nature to desire to help others.  When sharing stories about family trauma and difficult circumstances, just about everyone responds with sympathy.  Some go the extra mile and offer help.  More persistent acquaintances insist on helping and refuse to take “no” for an answer.  It is easy to believe that all humans are born with a desire to help others.  Holding the door for a mom whose hands are full, volunteering to help out with the cub scouts, bringing the kids to the nursing home bring smiles to the elderly… each of these are obvious and tangible.

When donating blood, you do not get to see the smiles of those you help.  There is no personal moment where the person can say smile, wave, or say thanks for your assistance.  If you go to the drive alone, there may not even be a personal connection at all.  While the donation center staff are friendly, it is unlikely that any of them will ever be more than acquaintances.  Your sacrifice is rewarded by the feeling you get as you walk out.  A feeling of satisfaction that your donation might be used to save an old man, a young mother, or a child who is desperately clinging to life.

In a perfect world, it would be great to help a sick person by simply closing your eyes and willing some of your life force to them… or perhaps holding their hand and transferring your strength through the power of a supernatural handshake.  Unfortunately, the best that science and medicine have come up with is the aforementioned experience of blood donation.  The fear of needles may prevent some from providing this gift.  The urge to procrastinate a force that can prevent one from donating for years or even decades.  A lack of personal experience with those whose lives were saved due to the generous blood donations of others a factor in those who live their life without even considering blood donation.

Jessica is alive because of the simple fact that people just like yourself donated blood.  When our life was turned upside-down and things were at their worst, donated blood gave her the chance to continue to live.  It took over 100 units of blood and blood products before her body was able to stabilize.  That translates to quite a few people I wish I could seek out and thank.  Their sacrifice has made all the difference for me and my family.

The experience of giving blood is an investment made in faith.  Most donors never find out how their donation has been used, so believe me when I tell you that your donation is appreciated.  Blood donation has saved lives and continues to serve those during their time of need every day.  Because of the generous donations of others, my wife is alive today.  Because of their donation, my kids still have a mom.  If you haven’t donated in a while, I urge you to consider giving the gift of life.  Please click the link below or pick up the phone to schedule your donation today.

Find a blood donation center 

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