Help save a life by giving blood
January 11, 2013 3:50PM
When you give blood at a Heartland Blood Center in January, you will get a $10 Target gift card.
Updated: February 15, 2013 6:08AM
January is National Blood Donor month, designated as such since 1970, according to the American Red Cross.
It’s a time not only to recognize those who give blood, but to educate everyone about the importance of regular blood donation and the impact it has on saving lives.
Every day about 44,000 pints of blood are needed for trauma victims, surgery patients, organ transplant recipients, premature babies and cancer patients, to name a few.
Blood donations are especially important during the winter months when icy roads and inclement weather can cause more traumatic injuries in vehicle accidents. People also tend to give less during this time of year because of the busy holiday season that just passed and the higher incidences of colds and flu, keeping even the regular donors from giving.
I know several people who have relied on blood transfusions during chemotherapy treatments, including my aunt and a dear friend. Sadly my friend passed away from Stage 4 breast cancer, but there were many times during her illness that she had to have transfusions to keep going when her blood counts got low. They were really a lifesaver for her.
As I thought about writing this column, it occurred to me that it’s easy to make a recommendation to donate blood when I hadn’t even done it myself.
In 2004 I made an attempt to donate blood, but I had recently had an ear pierced and at the time that excluded me.
This time, with no recent piercings (or tattoos or other issues), I headed to Heartland Blood Center in Morris to make my donation.
I am not squeamish about blood or needles, so it really was quite painless. The worst part was the finger stick to check for a quick blood test.
Everyone at Heartland was very nice. They answered all my questions about what they were doing each step of the way and why it was necessary.
I expected to be in and out in a few minutes, but there’s a bit of paperwork to fill out to make sure each donor is healthy and doesn’t participate in risky behaviors. Since I had been out of the country in the last three years, I had to fill out an additional form.
After the finger stick to check your blood count — mine was fine — it’s off to the comfy lounger to make your donation.
It was a bit freaky to see so much of my own blood going into the bag — they take about a pint. I also got a bit lightheaded during the process, but I had instructions on a form of exercise to do while you are in the chair called applied muscle tension (AMT) where you tense and release groups of muscles. It really seemed to make a difference.
Afterward you get a snack and a drink while you sit for about 15 minutes just to make sure you are feeling well.
It really was an easy process. And while the paperwork takes some time, that’s what keeps our blood supply clean. They also remove several vials of your blood to have it tested before the donation is even used on someone else.
There’s still a lot of time to donate blood during this special month, or any other month for that matter.
There are upcoming blood drives in many surrounding towns through both Heartland Blood Center and the American Red Cross. Or you can organize your own blood drive through them.
You can also do what I did and make an appointment with a Heartland Blood Center near you. During January, anyone who gives blood receives a $10 Target gift card as a thank-you. And you also get a cool sticker to wear.
I got mine last week, now go get yours.
Reach Kris Stadalsky at firstname.lastname@example.org.