As Massachusetts contemplated closing in those early weeks of March, it was clear to me that we were headed for a shutdown and that it was going to be longer than people anticipated. So I scrambled to catch up on all my appointments- including a blood donation. My trip to the Boston Red Cross Center in Boston ended up being the last thing I would do in public for nearly two months.
A few weeks later, quarantining at my parents’ house, I received an email. “Thank you for giving blood with the American Red Cross on March 12, 2020. Your blood donation was sent to Parkland Medical Center in Derry, NH to help a patient in need.”
While I know why donating blood is important and saves lives, nothing about the process feels especially heroic. The routine of donating blood allowed the ‘why’ to lose some of its potency and was replaced with the “how”- make the appointment, sit in the waiting room, review the screening questions, get a needle stuck in your arm, watch the blood leave your body, get wrapped up, sit with a juicebox and cheez-its, and then leave. But that note? That note sideswiped out of nowhere in the middle of the day because I forgot.
I forgot that once upon a time several donors like me took the time to go through that whole process and their blood was sent to a hospital in Massachusetts to help a patient in need. That patient was my dad.
Between the note and news reports of blood shortages, it just hit me in that moment that I know better than anyone how vital it is for hospitals to have a steady blood supply. My dad is a pretty private person, so I’m not going to detail the accident. But suffice to say that blood transfusions were a critical component to saving his life. Imagining a world where the hospital didn’t have his blood type on hand and growing up (& celebrate 26 birthdays) without my dad is literally too terrible to contemplate.
So for my birthday this year, I’d love if you wrapped up 500ml of your blood and sent it to a patient in need.
I know right now any activity that requires you to be around other people- especially indoors- carries the risk of getting COVID. But I wouldn’t ask folks to take the risk if I didn’t think it was important. (That being said, if you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over the age of 50, I’d definitely prefer you to stay at home and schedule a donation appointment when it’s safe to do so.)