A pint of blood, that is. Tuesday, June 14 is World Blood Donor Day 2011. I’m just putting the idea out there, although I don’t expect everyone to rush the bloodmobile van all at once,
In fact, I think you shouldn’t donate tomorrow.
Try the next day. Or the next week. Or any day in the every-56-days cycle in which you’re allowed to donate. Just as the holiday season tends to bring a rush of donations to worthy causes, an event like World Blood Donor Day might bring temporary awareness and a temporary rise in donations.
According to a fact sheet from America’s Blood Centers, fewer than 10% of eligible U.S. donors actually donate. Most red blood cell donations can be stored for only 42 days – yet someone needs blood every two seconds.
“It’s about an hour of your time. It’s about life,” is the ABC’s motto.
What the world needs now is blood, sweet blood
When I worked at the Anchorage Daily News, the bloodmobile came to the paper on a regular schedule. I’d donate when I could; fairly often, however, they DQ’d me for having low iron or upper-respiratory issues (undiagnosed asthma + dry air + bad marriage = lots of sickness).
I haven’t donated since 2001. There was always a reason. Sometimes it was even a good reason. For four years it was because I was in school and working full-time-plus, which meant I was both overscheduled and afraid of risking infection.
(Yes, they use alcohol wipes. But any time there’s a break in the skin you have the chance of infection. In fact, I once got a serious infection after a pneumonia shot – and the nurse used alcohol wipes then, too.)
For the past year and a half I’ve been out of school but traveling a lot, hence more pressure to get work done while I’m actually at home. But dammit, I live a block away from Puget Sound Blood Center – why haven’t I gone in?
I’ve seen firsthand the difference blood donation can make. When my daughter was hospitalized with Guillain-Barre syndrome she underwent both transfusions and plasmapheresis. The latter was almost certainly fueled by paid plasma donations. The transfusion, though was probably from someone like me who believes in blood donation – but someone who, unlike me, has made it a priority.
If you can give blood this year, please do it. I will, too. I promise.