First Blood

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For almost three hours, this was my home-away-from-home, where I got to neglect my work and ogle Channing Tatum and not feel the least bit guilty.

October seems an appropriate time for a post on donating blood.

Well, actually any time of year really because there’s always such great bleed, I mean, need.

I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve only been a blood donor for a short period of time, just a few years. Back in high school, I always showed up to the blood drives in the auditorium, but I was turned away because… I didn’t weigh enough. I am now hating on 17-year-old me. But, that was obviously a looooong time ago. I easily make the weight requirement these days. In fact, I donate in part to drop a few pounds. Kidding! I heard lost blood weight comes back right away, dammit. I try to donate every time I’m eligible and it’s easy and takes less than an hour.

The last time I went, no joke the blood was practically spurting out of me like in a Quentin Tarantino film, but obviously much neater because there were tubes to contain it and of course, no one slashed me with a machete. I raced the woman across the aisle from me and I was done in less than 5 minutes — it was the first race in my life I won. I am not sure why I spent all those years in middle school track when I could have been participating AND WINNING in voluntary bloodletting competitions.

But — and I say this with the utmost love and respect — give the Red Cross a pint and they’ll ask for a gallon. That organization is nothing if not persistent and so like clockwork, I get calls — nay, phone guilt trips — to donate. And, there’s always a push for platelet donation, which I have always declined because that’s a minimum of 2 hours. Woof. Who has time for that? Guess what? I do.

I recently reconnected with a friend from college, who has cancer and has been battling that mo’ fo’ for 20 years and has to get chemo weekly and I felt insanely guilty. How could I not donate? It was a chunk of a day, yes, but I would spend a few hours in a comfy chair, watching a movie, and then I very selfishly get to feel good afterward knowing I helped someone.

So, I finally said, “Suck it, Red Cross! Take my blood! Now, filter out the platelets and pump it back in my body!” Hey, isn’t that how Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France? Well, since it is not cycling season, I instead took my superhuman, freshly recirculated blood out to lunch with a friend. 

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See? Just two little Band-Aids. That’s not so bad. 

Some things you should know about platelet donation:

• Platelets are tiny cells in your blood that form clots and stop bleeding. For millions of Americans, they are vital to surviving and fighting cancer, chronic diseases and traumatic injuries. Every 15 seconds someone needs platelets. They have a short shelf life — five days — so the need for new donors is constant.

• You can’t use your arms during donation — so no texting or reading. Here’s your excuse to chill and watch a movie. This means you need to choose your movie wisely because if you go for “Precious,” someone will have to wipe away your tears and snot. This does not appeal. I watched “21 Jump Street” and snort-laughed through almost the entire thing, which actually got me more personal attention because the nurses thought something was wrong with me.

• You will have to pee as soon as you are done. Saline gets pumped in along with anti-coagulant, so the bathroom is a higher priority than the juice box and Welch’s Fruit Snacks.

• You will feel really great afterward knowing that you helped one or maybe more people.

Yes, platelet donation is time consuming and I get that it’s too big of a commitment for many, but blood donation isn’t. And when you think about the possibility of helping or perhaps saving people’s lives, the time sacrifice is worth it, IMHO. So, what are you waiting for? Click here and go make a difference.

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