Andrew’s Arm

2 /100

Today is my birthday but I want to give rather than receive.

My first donation wasn’t until I was 42 years old, even though it was something I always wanted to do and for different reasons I kept putting it off. My main motivation for finally pushing myself to do it was that I felt a pull after losing my father to a stroke and wishing there was something more I could have done to help him, even though a blood transfusion was never anything he needed, but I knew I had to finally help anyone else I could, as I’ve done my whole life in other ways. I also have to confess that I had a slight ulterior motive in donating- I never knew my blood type my whole life and I knew this was the only way I could ever find out. 😁

Fortunately my first experience ever donating was a very smooth process and the staff at my local American Red Cross location were top notch and so friendly, warm and accommodating.

Now even though I didn’t think ahead about whether I’d come back for a second donation, I had a sense that I shouldn’t be a one-and-done contributor because I knew all too well that people are constantly in need of these vital blood donations to save their lives and if everyone only donated once that wouldn’t get the job… and sure enough that sentiment was echoed when I received a not-so-subtle follow up email after I made that first donation asking me not to be a one-hit wonder and providing so much data on how many people do just donate once and never return, so I was slightly hooked at that point and immediately made my next blood donation appointment.

But there were three other significant factors that put me over the top and more firmly hooked me in and made me a committed regular donor. First, I learned that my second donation saved someone’s life at a hospital that my late father spent much time at in his life due to ongoing cardiac conditions much of his adult life and I felt he was speaking to me then. Second, I learned that I have a fairly less common (although not necessarily rare) blood type, B-, and because there was a shortage of the rare and less common blood types they needed more of it as quickly as possible; so much so that at my third donation appointment which was supposed to be just a blood donation, I was politely asked if I would kindly consider doing a Power Red donation instead, which I hadn’t done before and I wasn’t familiar with at the time. So I asked questions and was candidly informed what it involved and how it differed from regular blood donation, but I really loved knowing that I could actually make a bigger donation at once (2 units instead of 1) so it could do more good more quickly and save more lives. So I gladly agreed to do it and it was a great experience; but at that same appointment the second factor is what hooked me for life- the tech who was helping take my blood personally thanked me for donating and making the change to do Power Red on the spot, and when I asked her why she was thanking me personally she promptly informed me that she recently had a medical emergency and she unexpectedly needed a blood transfusion and if it wasn’t for generous and selfless donors like me she may not be there talking to me. Hook, line and sinker I was immediately a donor for life.

Since then I have donated twice more and Power Red is now my go to type of donation, although due to some “technical difficulties” at my most recent Power Red donation they were only able to get 1 unit of my blood instead of 2 because of the machine and a blockage in the tubes and lines, and because the line wasn’t well positioned in my vein and they had to make several adjustments which they apologized for but I knew I had to soldier on because of the importance of completing the donation. Ultimately they had to cut the donation short but they reassured me it wasn’t all for naught as they got the one unit and it would definitely be used so I wouldn’t feel bad that I couldn’t help- as it happens they used the donation for platelets instead which is also equally important so I’ve now done every type of donation but plasma.

The point in all of this “rant” is very simple- giving blood saves lives! Regardless of whether you can see the lives you’re saving and impacting it makes a difference, and even though there may be some temporary pain or discomfort when you donate, it far outweighs the pain you will prevent by saving someone’s life and the pain their family, friends and loved ones would experience without people like us! But I can’t do it alone and I need more people that recognize and value the importance of this life-saving act that really is the greatest gift you can ever give to someone.

So please consider joining my campaign and “rolling up those sleeves” to get to work. Thank you all!