Donate blood and save three lives

Pictured is the blood mobile where I donated on July 17, 2020.

Donation of any stripe is one of those things where you have to suck up the, “I don’t want to look like I’m promoting my good deed to get credit for the good deed,” because, well, it’s good to tell people about donating to hopefully encourage others to do it, and perhaps to dispel any fears or misconceptions about it.

In this case, today, I donated blood. They actually had one of those blood mobiles literally two minutes from my house. It’s been a while since I’ve donated blood in one of those, and admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of ’em. It feels like you’re on a ship with perpetual motion.

But anyhow, blood donation is easy, safe, and particularly, it’s worth pointing out that it’s still safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Think about it this way. At most, you spend maybe 35 minutes donating blood, plus whatever the roundabout drive time is. That 35 minutes breaks down like this: Let’s say 20 minutes at most to donate (it can be even as short as six to 10 minutes), and about 15 minutes, give or take, to have the technicians check your vitals (blood pressure, temperature, pulse), and to go over the forms.

So, 35 minutes. That’s about how long it took me today. I was on the higher end of the blood donation at 20 minutes. Also, I waited an extra 10 minutes because my initial pulse was too high. It was 112. But I had three cups of coffee this morning, so what are you going to do? When I got it checked again, it was back down to 96.

Also, in this case, I was donating whole blood, which tends to be the faster one. Others I’ve done are plasma and power red donation (it seems to go by different names, like automated red cell). Both of those involve a machine, and can take a bit longer.

But let’s say you did whole blood, and it was 35 minutes of your time. For 35 minutes of your time, your one pint of blood saved three lives. You can come back in eight weeks and do that donation again. That’s another three lives. If you kept that up for a whole calendar year, you could donate six or seven times, and save 18 to 24 lives every year. (Note: 16-years-old to 18-years-old may not be able to do that as often given iron balance concerns.)

Let’s go over some more stats, courtesy of my local blood center. Every two seconds in the United States, someone needs blood, and every year, 15 million pints of blood are transfused each year. That’s about 40,000 pints a day in the United States and Canada.

Unfortunately, less than 10 percent of the population, who is eligible to donate blood, does so. To meet the demand of local hospitals, my local blood center has to collect a minimum of 400 units of blood and 40 units of platelets every day.⁣

And trust me, I get it. I grew up terrified of needles. I used to have really bad acne (and still occasionally do), and took a medication called Accutane to treat it. Well, that medication could have deleterious effects on the liver, so I was getting my enzymes checked monthly to make sure I was okay. That meant getting the needle, and I hated it.

To be perfectly honest, I’m still not comfortable with it. I don’t look when they inject the needle, and in general, I spend the 35 minutes or so thinking of everything but the blood donation to distract myself.

But it’s doable and it’s for a good cause.

Particularly, right now during the coronavirus pandemic, blood is in high demand. Supplies initially went down because people were afraid to donate, and then when the pandemic in parts of the country was more under control, and other elective surgeries and transplants started again, blood needs surged again.

I donated through Hoxworth Blood Center, my local blood center, which has a few places near me and one in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. But find the center most appropriate for you and your location.

Consider donating today and save some lives!

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