Why I Donate Blood

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that I’m a regular blood donor.  I’m not exactly great at it, I do vomit and faint from time to time, which begs the question, why the hell do I donate blood?!?

My sister’s friend once teased me about how I actually consume public resources by donating blood (this was after one time people called the ambulance after I fainted in a cafeteria) rather than helping people.

When I was 17, I donated blood for the first time.  I was excited at the idea of being part of saving lives, and doing something that cost nothing except for my time to do so.  In short, I donated purely out of the romantic notions of philanthropy.  However, the first time I donated, I realized that I was actually privileged to be able donate blood.

Though the time you spend actually donating blood takes around 15 minutes, your whole visit actually takes about one hour.  Why?  They spend the rest of the time asking you a plethora of questions about your background and your current health.

I realized that through the screening process, many people who want to donate, for whatever reason, can’t.  I don’t necessarily agree with all of the screening requirements (for example, you can’t donate if you’re a man who has had sex with a man. Or if you’ve had sex with a man who has had sex with a man), but I understand that being able to pass all of the screening requirements is not something to be taken for granted.

I’ve asked the phlebotomists (the nurses who take your blood) how their inventory is, and they tell me that my blood gets used right away.  Not only that, it only has a shelf life of 4 days, so it’s not like they can stock up on it.  A lot of Toronto’s inventory gets sent out to small towns that don’t have donor clinics, and it often takes multiple units of blood to save a life.

So why not?  The one that I go to is open late on Thursdays, and give you free pizza!

I don’t know if I will always be able to donate blood.  Anything can happen in my future that may nullify my candidacy.  But while I can, I’ll continue to donate.  You should too.  Go to www.blood.ca to donate.

*Cartoon courtesy of http://www.slapupsidethehead.com

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