You never know who you’re helping when you donate blood.
My Road to My First Blood Donation
Back in 2011, my family was high atop St. Louis, celebrating the end of a successful fundraiser. We raised our glasses for a family shot of Crown Royal when the photographer put my parents, brother, and me together for a family picture.
My dad didn’t feel well when he woke up the next morning, we joked it was probably that shot. My dad was always a beer guy.
He made a doctor’s appointment the next day. His blood pressure was all over the place; something was wrong. That was the first in a long line of doctors’ visits, hospital stays, surgeries, and tests that didn’t end until many years later when my Dad received a new kidney.
On the way to getting that new kidney, he also got a lot of new blood.
Understanding the Need, and a Big Change of Heart
Before that, I hadn’t considered giving blood. I didn’t appreciate what a lifesaving gift it was to someone else and it seemed like a hassle. Today I know many people, not just my dad, who would not be here without a stranger’s blood. This includes a lot of the people that live in long-term care that VOYCE serves.
January is Blood Donation Month. It seems like there has always been a blood shortage in our country, but since COVID-19, the need has never been higher. As of December 1, 2022, America’s Blood Centers’ daily tracker shows that 25% of community blood centers in our country have a one-day supply or less of blood.
Recently, the FDA lifted restrictions for people who lived in European countries with Mad Cow Disease outbreaks and is considering lifting restrictions on gay and bisexual men giving blood. These changes could certainly help with supply and stigma around people in the LGBTQ community.
But what or who could make a difference right now is you. You can likely donate blood today.
How to Donate Blood
All you need to do to sign up is go to the Red Cross’s donation page or the donation page for your favorite blood center and find a time and place that works for you. Check the eligibility page, but if you’re at least 16, feeling well, and weighing at least 110 pounds, you are likely eligible. Recent travel, certain medications, or low iron might keep you from donating temporarily.
Did you know there’s no age cap on donating?
Be prepared to answer many questions and roll your sleeve way up on donation day. On a recent trip to donate blood, I was in and out in an hour after work. In the end, I got a tee shirt, apple juice, and a cookie. Best of all, I knew someone like my dad would need that blood and have a better chance of life because I gave.
by Marjorie Moore, VOYCE Executive Director