Thursday, December 4, 2014

Erica's #98 - Donate Blood

I've been a 4-times per year blood donor for a few years now - they make it easy by holding blood drives every quarter right in the building that I work in.  Little did I know that I'd have to give that up for a year after getting a tattoo in Seattle, Washington last year after our epic bicycle journey across America.  Washington happens to be a state where tattoo parlors are not regulated, which meant a one-year moratorium on my blood donations.

Thankfully, that moratorium was lifted in mid-September of this year.  I didn't schedule an appointment right away, but just a few weeks after I was eligible to donate again, my Uncle Fred passed away after a long battle with cancer.  In order to do something positive to celebrate his life, I logged on to the blood center's website, and made an appointment to donate - my Uncle needed several transfusions during his battle with cancer to keep him healthy, and I wanted to be able to provide another brave patient with the same gift.

I planned on doing just a regular old whole blood donation, but found out I was eligible to donate both red cells and platelets via apheresis (they take your blood and separate out the parts they want, then return the remainder into your body).  Platelets are particularly necessary for patients undergoing cancer treatments, so this seemed like an ideal situation and perfect way to honor my Uncle.

The apheresis takes a bit longer than a whole blood donation, and can make you feel cold (the blood re-entering your body isn't as warm as it was when it came out!), but other than that, I didn't notice much of a difference in the process or the way I felt during or after donating.

As my PSA - many people want to participate in something that gives back or helps others in their community, and some can't always afford the time or monetary donations to help in more traditional ways.  If you're eligible, get out there and donate blood - you never know whose life you may be saving, or when you or someone you love may rely on the kindness of strangers for the same gift.  It's a free, quick, and relatively painless way to do your good deed!
Fittingly - my Uncle Freddy as a child with my dad's bicycle :)