I gave blood today. I do this semi-regularly, which is to say not as often as the blood bank would like me to, but at least a few times a year. I’m not trying to boast or talk myself up. I’m really just writing about this to record what I did and to maybe encourage anyone else to give blood.
I know a lot of people, for various reasons, can’t give blood. And that’s okay! But if your reason is just, “Ew, I don’t wanna…” I’d love for you to reconsider.
I get it. I don’t like needles either. If they show someone getting stuck with a needle or getting stitches on TV or in a movie, I close my eyes and look away. I don’t like blood either. It’s just supposed to stay inside. I can’t even stomach watching someone eat rare steak. But I can give blood. And if I can get over those things to give blood, you can too.
It’s so easy and doesn’t take very long. I might be a weirdo, but I enjoy it as a moment to be still. The donation chairs are shockingly comfortable. Not the ones at blood drives that are like giant pool chairs. Those are fine, but the permanent ones at the blood donation center are awesome. In other circumstances, you could get a phenomenal nap in one of those babies.
The apparatus for giving blood (I’m sure it has a name, and I could probably look it up, but that wouldn’t be very helpful if you don’t know what it’s called either) has clearly been carefully engineered. Aside from the obvious functions of monitoring how much blood has been collected and gently rocking the donation back and forth, it also makes the donation process feel like a game.
Okay, I know that sounds bonkers, but hear me out. The machine has been designed with the happiest beep noises. I honestly wonder how much testing the designers went through to get just the right noise. Because it does matter. In a situation where people are already a little anxious, a harsh buzzing or shrill beep would make everything so much worse, especially when it has to beep as much as it does (a timer beep to get ready, a timer beep for swabbing the arm, a timer for letting the alcohol dry, warning beeps that the donation is almost finished and more). But the best noise is when you’re all done. It chimes “Brring-brring-brring!!” like Mario found a hidden coin box or something. You can’t hear it and not think “I won!”
The biggest reason I give blood is for the people I love. When I was 11, I watched a very dear cousin fight melanoma. It was a long, agonizing battle, and over the course of two years, I don’t know how many pints of blood I saw her receive. A few years ago one of my oldest friends had pregnancy complications that ended with an emergency hysterectomy. She and her daughter are safe and healthy, but without donor blood, we would have lost her. Three and a half years ago my mom underwent a delicate and risky pancreatic cancer surgery. The hospital had blood held on standby for her, just in case. Thankfully she didn’t need it, but it was a comfort to know it was there and ready.
I’m sure I know more people who have relied on donated blood. I’m sure you know someone who has needed blood.
I’ll be honest, another reason I give blood is that it is an excellent excuse to eat a little junk food and then be lazy. I mean, look at this snack selection.
This is basically nutritional garbage that I normally would feel pretty guilty about eating, but on this special occasion, it’s a treat! And this wasn’t even the best selection I’ve seen. (I recommend the Snap’d Cheez-its and an orange juice from the fridge.) And after you’ve had your little snack, you’re not allowed to do anything strenuous for 24 hours, and they explicitly tell you not to skip any meals for a couple days. You need a break from stuff? Go give blood ,and then you have to take a little break. If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, you say, “Ooh, I wish I could, but I gave blood.”
I don’t know about other blood banks, but the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks has some great shirts, too, and the phlebotomists are always super friendly and professional.
I’ll try and be funnier next time. Thanks for reading this actually-pretty-serious post, and please consider giving blood.
Holly, for a while they did not want my blood because I had been to England where there where there was mad cow disease (a long time ago) AND because I have asthma. Do you know—are those still restrictions?
I know they do ask about being in England during certain time periods (I think 1980-1996) and ask if you have had heart or lung problems, but I don’t know whether it would still be an automatic exclusion. To donate with CBCO, they have some good information on this web page, including a phone number for more specific questions. https://www.cbco.org/can-i-give/