About 5 years ago, I asked my doctor how to determine my blood type. Her response was to have a child, get in a terrible accident, or donate blood. All equally unappealing choices. Fast forward a few years and I was still itching to learn, so I took the best of the unappealing options and donated blood at work.
I showed up to the blood drive terrified and anxious. I have a vagal response to skin punctures (I nearly pass out, get the sweats, etc.) and got light headed at the finger prick! I told the phlebotomist I’m a huge baby and was scared I’d puke or pass out. She taught me how to manage the fainting response and I had the best experience. I still use the skills she taught me, and the staff’s kindness and compassion have led me to continue donating.
The biggest factor though, in turning me into a regular donor, was learning I’m O negative. My blood is especially important because we make up just 7% of the population and we’re the only universal donor! Yikes! I suddenly felt a moral imperative to continue donating. Humanity and the greater good are important to me, and this small sacrifice can directly impact humans in medical crisis.
Since becoming a regular donor in 2019, my blood has been sent to Richmond, Lynchburg, Norfolk, a few places I can’t remember, and the hospital where I completed my Master’s internship in Salem. One pint even went to New Jersey! Each pint can save up to 3 lives, which means I’ve saved up to 18 people! That’s pretty freaking cool!!
For my 35th birthday, I wanted to do something big, but that’s not possible with the pandemic. Instead, I’m asking for 35 people to commit to donating blood. In the midst of a pandemic, social unrest, and a world full of existential crises, this one thing has helped me feel like I can help my fellow man. I can think of no better way to celebrate life and the opportunity to take another trip around the sun, than by giving the gift of blood. I hope you’ll join me!