Some of my friends think I’m a freak because I have a slight preoccupation with giving blood. Since I just came home from a blood drive and have a fresh bandage on my arm and I’m in the mood, let me explain why I think it’s a worthwhile practice.
1. More than likely, someone I know, or myself, is going to need blood. When that happens, I’m going to be really thankful for the people that donated the pints of blood that saved their lives. I know someone who has needed several blood transfusions, as a result of being a first responder for 9/11, and it just makes it all the more relevant. Just because I don’t know who or why or when someone is going to get the blood I just pumped out, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t really important.
2. Only 37% of people in the US are eligible to donate blood, and less than 10 percent actually do. If you think about all of the people in this country who get into serious car accidents, have serious surgeries, have cancer and need platelets… its probably a lot more than the amount of blood readily available. Especially when one person requires multiple transfusions. If it only takes me an hour of my time to give blood every once in a while, and they give me free cookies, why the hell not? PS- they have Lorna Doone cookies which are only the best cookies ever. And Oreos as well. But I only take my Oreos with milk, which they do not have.
3. I’ve been blessed with type O- blood which is the universal donor type, meaning everyone can get my blood. I’m also CMV- (which is a virus) so cancer patients and babies can also have my blood. Chances are, if I gave blood, they’re gonna use it, and use it quick. I also found out that I have double the platelet count of normal blood. With all of this knowledge, how can I pass a sign for a blood drive and be so selfish as to think, “No, I really don’t feel like doing that today.” I felt like that before. I felt a little too lazy to go to the library, but then my better sense kicked in and I was like “Alyssa, what the f*ck, get up and go.” And half the time my iron is too low to give blood anyway, but at least I try. And they send you priority stickers if you’re a universal donor so that the labs know your blood is a big deal and they can process it quickly and distribute it to people who need it most (like probably the people who come into the emergency room unconscious bleeding out of every limb and they don’t have time to figure out what their blood type is because THEY’RE GONNA DIE. Those people.)
4. It gives you a great excuse to take a nap, and I loves me some naps. So if there’s a valid excuse to sleep for a few hours without my mom bitching to me about how lazy I’m being, I’m all for it. Also, the quality of the post-donation nap is better than average.
5. It does not even remotely hurt. Just close your eyes and look away, and don’t move your arm. It’s over in ten minutes. And then you get a sticker that tells people to be nice to you.
6. My former boss told me that she no longer donates blood because she realized that they just make money off of it, because they charge you for blood transfusions in a hospital, and you don’t get paid for donating. Dumb, Dumb, Dumb. First of all, they have to charge you for services in a hospital because that’s how they keep the hospital running, and that’s how they fund the means to collect and distribute blood, DUH. Secondly, I’m not sure if all, but I know a lot of hospitals are non-profit. Third, you can’t MAKE human blood. So go ahead, stop donating. But when you need blood and there’s a shortage of it and they can’t whip some up in a lab, don’t come crying to me. Lastly, you can’t pay people for donating blood because it is unethical. You know what happens when you pay people for blood? You get drug addicts and people desperate for money coming in trying to donate, and they will lie on their questionnaires and then the blood is unsafe and then you just wasted a bunch of money collecting and testing the blood. D U H. However, the NY Blood Center has a donor advantage program where you can earn points for donating and then turn the points in for rewards like gift cards, movie tickets, etc. It’s not an immediate payback, but it’s something. And I’ve been sent baseball tickets by NY Blood Center that I didn’t ask for because I donated, and they also sent me a $25 Target gift card for just TRYING to donate (I think because I tried like 8 times in a row and failed and they pitied me.) At the heart of it, it’s a great organization.
7. I like to think of myself as a very generous person. I like to help people. I don’t have a lot of money, but I do have blood, and it doesn’t cost me anything but an hour to give it. And it can help as many as six people for one donation. You know what happened to that $25 I gave to Wyclef Jean for his Haiti foundation? God knows, but more than likely it helped absolutely no one. Better to give substance with one purpose than money that can be used for alternate purposes that the one intended.