I was compensated for my time to create this message. I am a long-time Lifeblood donor, and think everyone who can should donate blood.
It’s a new season of life for me! My daughter is in college, and I’m finally—for the very first time in my entire life—living alone. I’m an empty nester! (Well, partially. College kids do come home.)
Although I’m working hard from home to pay her tuition bills, I do have more time in my schedule to invest in me. But I’m not squandering this newfound freedom. I’m using at least some of it to give back to my local community. For example, I tutor in my local school system once a week, coaching second graders to recognize basic sight words. Another thing I do to give back is donate blood. It costs me nothing more than about 90 minutes of my day, and I get a big sense of satisfaction that I’ve done something wonderful for someone (or even up to three people).
Facts About Donating Blood
- Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs a transfusion of donated blood.
- One in 7 people entering the hospital needs a blood transfusion.
- One whole blood donation has the potential to help up to three patients.
- Blood can be donated every 56 days, up to six times a year.
A common misunderstanding about blood usage is that accident victims are the patients who use the most blood. Whenever there is a natural disaster or some other tragedy, you hear of people going to donate blood for the cause. That’s a nice sentiment, for sure. But actually, the people who receive the most blood are people with ongoing medical needs who are
- being treated for cancer
- undergoing orthopedic surgeries
- undergoing organ and marrow transplants
- undergoing cardiovascular surgeries
- being treated for inherited blood disorders
Major disasters don’t usually require large amounts of blood. In most cases, hospitals rely on the blood that is already on their shelves to save lives. You can help blood centers be at the ready by making sure blood is available before it’s needed. Anytime is a good time to donate blood.
It takes about 60-90 minutes of your day, and at my local center, I always get a cool t-shirt as a thank you. Of course, I don’t do it for the t-shirt. I do it because I can. I know there are many people who can use my blood. And there are many people who cannot donate for whatever reason. So I try to donate at least four times a year. You can donate up to 6 times a year (every 8 weeks), but due to scheduling conflicts, I don’t always fit in all 8 visits.
My Story About Blood Donation
When I was a teen, I remember my mother donating blood. I always thought it was quite selfless of her to do it, and I knew that as soon as I was old enough, I would attempt it! (Teens can give as young as 16 with parental consent.) Through college, I would periodically drop by the donation center to give. Sometimes my iron was too low, but I would just try again a few weeks later.
To clarify, this isn’t donating blood for cash. This is donating blood for altruistic reasons at non-profit blood centers.
Of course, during my years in China, I couldn’t give blood. China wouldn’t take my foreign blood. And America didn’t want my traveler’s blood. But once I’d been back in American for a few years, I started giving regularly again.
When Emma had her spinal fusion for scoliosis at age 12, she gave blood for herself in advance of her surgery, and I gave alongside her. Although she didn’t receive the blood I donated that day, it was meaningful to do it together. She has always been interested in medicine, and she found the whole process fascinating, asking the nurses a ton of questions.
She couldn’t wait to be old enough to donate to someone else. Her Lifeblood t-shirt from her first donation at age 16 is still one of her favorites, and she wears it proudly.
It makes me happy that my mom was a role model for me to donate blood, and now I’ve passed that desire to my own daughter.
How Can You Give Back in Your Community?
When was the last time you gave blood? Is it time again? Have you never given? Go ahead and try! #BeImpulsive. The staff will walk you through the entire process and ease any of your jitters.
How can you get involved? Find out at BeImpulsiveRSVP.com. #BeImpulsive.
P. S. If you aren’t in a season when you can do much volunteering, that’s okay. Your time will come. In the meanwhile, educate your young children about blood donation and the impact this selfless act can have on up to three different patients. And commit to donating blood—or giving back in your own unique way—when you do have the margin in your life.