Share a pint with someone you don’t know.

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.

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  1. I know it’s a serious topic, but I am enjoying the title and subtitle of your entry today a little too much.

  2. I, too, had not given blood since 2001 and last week I went to the bloodmobile to do my duty. I gave, I snacked, I waited and then started to walk across the parking lot to meet my husband.

    The next thing I knew I was on the ground staring up at a pile of people, and then in am ambulance to the ER.

    I’m fine now, but the last thing the bloodmobile nurse said to me was that I was now persona non grata with the Red Cross.

    Geez, I tried.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Emma: Wow. Maybe try a different agency, and bring your lunch along?
      Different people do react differently. A guy who lives about 30 feet from the blood center in my neighborhood had his fence knocked down by a woman who gave, snacked, left and then passed out at the wheel. Yikes. Fortunately, no one was hurt (but the car and the fence were a little rearranged by their encounter).
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

  3. Just great! I was working up my nerve to give. Then, passing out stories? The only time I ever went to give, I had had a miscarriage within their parameters on “no giving for you” time. Since I am going to need a transfusion for a surgery I need, I may just look into “giving” my own blood to me and taking along a designated driver when I do so.

  4. I can’t give, I’m still in the “not able to give” window from coming back from Iraq, plus they always tell me I have low iron, my doctor says my iron is fine, so :/!

  5. I’m always surprised more people don’t donate – I hate needles, but give blood almost every time I can. Hope it never happens, but I would hate to need it and there not be enough.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Marie: I am completely phobic about needles, so I just take off my glasses. As long as I can’t see the needle, I’m fine.

  6. Elizabeth

    I, personally, am a proud two gallon donor… who really should be higher than that but it’s been about three years since I was donating regularly. I started donating the day after I turned seventeen, once it was legal with parental consent. It took me much longer than most to reach that two gallon mark because I was always anemic, though. I think the discouragement is what has really kept me from finding a new donation center since I moved. I really should fix that. Thank you for giving me one more reminder of that.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Elizabeth: You’re my hero! I better start up again if I want to catch up.

  7. Suzanne

    THanks for the reminder its been 2 months and 10 days gotta look for where to make a deposit – and share a pint!
    To all you who are thinking of donating for the first time, dont be scared -the fainting and crashing stories are few and far between. Normal is cookies and juice and a take away of some sort. This month I think is a t-shirt, last time was a keep it cold grocery bag.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Suzanne: Good point. Normal donation is actually kind of relaxing. They often run a movie but I either read or doze. And there’s cookies afterward! Woo hoo!

  8. I am not eligible for 3 more weeks. Once that time passes I’ll be back in to give up another pint of life force.

  9. blood and fortitude

    After 9/11 I went to the local Red Cross to donate blood.

    I was rejected.

    • Donna Freedman

      @blood and fortitude: Not everyone is accepted as a donor. Don’t take it personally.

  10. I used to give on a regular basis in my former hometown because the local Catholic church held regular blood drives. The ladies always served egg salad sandwiches, sloppy joes, chips and cookies. I went during my lunch break — a win-win! I haven’t given for a while now, and need to get up and do it! Thanks for the butt-kick!

  11. They won’t let you give if you’re underweight (which I am and always have been). I’ve been a registered bone marrow donor for 11 years though. That’s another organization in need of potential donors so think about registering today!

  12. my hubby donates regularly…and has a drawer full of free short and long-sleeved t-shirts, a beach towel and a throw to prove it. 😉 Me? Not so much…thanks for this reminder!

  13. Donna, thank you for encouraging your friends to donate, and for your cleverly titled post! I’ve shared it on Puget Sound Blood Center’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/PugetSoundBloodCenter


    Sean DeButts
    Social Media Coordinator
    Puget Sound Blood Center
    E: socialnet@psbc.org
    W: http://www.psbc.org/programs/social_media.htm

    • Donna Freedman

      @Sean: Thanks for linking! And I’ll see you guys when I get back to Seattle.

  14. I went to donate today, but my iron was too low. I just hit 4 gallons last time. I’ll try again Friday! Donating is a good thing to do!

    • Donna Freedman

      @Katie: Four gallons?!? You are a lean, mean, life-saving machine. My hat is off to you. Thanks for caring so much.

  15. No needle phobia but I have veins that are very hard to find. I’ll donate if a phlebotomist is doing the poking but no student nurses or community volunteers. I am a registered bone marrow donor–I signed up when they were having a donor drive for Susan Butcher and I’ve kept my info current.

  16. Sheryl

    Since I don’t have any other way of thanking them, I would like to express my gratitude to the four people who saved my life last month. I went to the hospital with severe anemia and it took four units of red blood cells to keep me going while they found out what was causing it. Their time meant everything, literally, to me and my family.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Sheryl: So glad you’re OK — and thanks for the testimony as to the importance of donating blood.

  17. My husband and I used to take ourselves out on a “blood date” every couple of months. We’d both give blood and then go out for burgers afterward (gotta replenish your iron, you know).

    But this year I can’t give blood because I’m pregnant. It’s one of the few real downsides to this miraculous process… so, give on my behalf, please!

    • Donna Freedman

      @Schmei: Congratulations on your impending miracle. And thanks for the great idea of a “blood date.” I like it.

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