I have been giving blood a couple of times a year since my 30s. The first time I went, there was a plea from a local news station stating that there was a shortage of o positive (O+) blood. I am o positive. I am one of thirty-seven percent in the U.S. who can give to anyone, but my body will only accept o positive or o negative (O-). My blood type is in high demand.
The first day I gave blood, I was hooked.
December 2010 my life changed. For the first time ever, I became the recipient. I never really gave it much thought as to what what I was really doing when I gave blood before. I did understand I was helping someone who was sick or injured, but it never clicked that I was literally saving someone’s life — until it was my life that was being saved.
The first night I was in the hospital I received four pints of blood — from four people who took time out from their busy lives (and got nothing in return except, the possibility of feeling good) — to give something to a stranger they would never meet. Were they aware of what a true ‘gift’ they were giving someone?
I still think about those days sometimes. I received over twelve pints in total throughout my cancer ordeal.
I thought about it again today after watching a news story about a young boy who needs a bone marrow transplant. His parents are hoping to find a donor match by telling his story via the media.
Testing bone marrows aren’t the painful experience they once were (it can be done by swabbing the inside of a cheek) and then the possible donor will be added to a registry. The demand for blood and marrow donors still vastly exceeds the number of donations. More donors are needed.
Donating a part of yourself is, in my opinion one of the greatest gifts you can give. Your kindness can change someone’s life forever — just like the ones who saved me. If you want to give blood, you can find a local blood bank in your area that you can donate to. If you want to be on the bone marrow registry, go to bethematch.org.
So this holiday season, consider giving someone a gift they can’t find in a store — the gift of life.