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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How I got hooked on giving blood

I gave blood again yesterday. Dang, it felt good.

Nope, I don’t like getting stuck with a needle. I’m not nuts. But I am hooked on donating….

I always thought that giving blood was a good idea, especially after I received two units myself in 1976, after my first Cesarean section. Before I got the transfusion, I was a hurting, hurting dawg, with no energy and a constant searing headache. Once the nurse hooked me up to an IV of blood, BOOM! I could feel energy coming through my arm... warm and good. Amazing.
What really got me hooked on donating, though, was convenience. In 2004 I discovered the beauty of the local blood drive. That’s when the blood truck comes to my own neighborhood. Once I realized I didn’t have to drive a half hour to a blood center, I became a regular.
I like the idea of helping people without having to reach into my wallet. All it takes is an hour of my time. Five minutes of that time involves giving the actual red stuff. The other time is taken up with testing my blood to make sure I have enough red cells, and answering an almost hilariously detailed questionnaire (i.e. “Have you ever had sex with a man who had sex with another man?” “Have you ever paid to have sex, even once?”)
I’ve given five and a half gallons of blood so far. Imagine! Five and a half gallon milk cartons filled with blood. I donate every eight weeks if I can. Occasionally my hematocrit is too low (because I’m anemic from time to time), and I get “deferred.” Then I know it’s time for me to increase my intake of Malt-o-Meal, prunes, and iron pills.
I happen to be Type O negative, which makes me a universal donor. Yep, I’m kind of a big deal (at least at the Blood Center).

Five reasons giving blood helps others:
1. In the U.S. someone needs blood every two seconds; 38,000 units are needed every day.

2. Blood cannot be manufactured or harvested; only human blood can help humans.
3. Only 37 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to give, and fewer than 10 percent donate annually.
4. Every donation of a pint of whole blood can save up to three lives (your pint of blood is broken down into different parts that can help different recipients).

Six reasons giving blood helps donors:
1. Your blood donation is a kind of early warning system – the Blood Center will let you know if your blood tests positive for HIV, hepatitis,West Nile Virus, sexually-transmitted diseases, etc.
2. Through regular donations, you keep an eye on your blood pressure, pulse, and hematocrit levels.
3. Reported health benefits to the donor include: lowering blood pressure, removing some iron and free radical damage, reduced risk of heart disease and cancer (some of these benefits may be because donors tend to have healthy lifestyles).
4. Your donation takes only about an hour.

5. After you donate, you have a good feeling in your heart knowing you helped someone.

6. You get cookies and juice before you leave.

To learn about local blood drives in your area, check your local Blood Center or click on

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