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Can I Ward Off Grief by Giving Blood More Often?

July 16, 2010

56 days. In my world of best intentions, I’ll be back in just 56 days.

It’s never just 56 days.

56 days — 8 weeks — is the minimum amount of time in the United States that you can go between whole blood donations. It can take that long for the body to replenish its red blood cell supply.

So far, I’ve been lucky if I made it back in 156 days. There’s no donation center that’s all that convenient. The available times don’t match up with my complex schedule. There are child care issues. There’s work to do. Whine, whine, whine.

At least I’m on the right end of the needle.

Too many people end up on the (much tougher) incoming end of the needle each day. There are so many people who need my blood. The Red Cross blood donation page tells me so in big letters at the top of the page:

Type O Negative donors needed now!

The first time I opened that page, I was a little weirded out. Had the site had somehow captured cookies that ID’d my blood type?! Sure, I’ve put a lot of figurative blood, sweat and tears into some of the work I’ve done on my computer, but that seems beyond the capabilities of even my oh-so-sophisticated MacBook.

Today, as I waited my turn, I thought about the types of people I might be universally donating to:

  • A car accident victim?
  • A child with leukemia or a rare blood disorder?
  • A brand-new mom hemmorhaging after a C-section?

Because it can be given to anyone, the Red Cross says, Type O-negative blood is in high demand in emergency situations before the patient’s blood type is known and for newborns who need blood. So the more often I give, the more lives I can help save. What’s a little inconvenience if I can try to keep a family from suffering unimaginable grief?

When I finished giving my pint yesterday, the woman in the post-donation snack area handed me a card that said I could come back September 9. I’ll actually be out of town that day, but I already went online and signed up to donate the following week.

September 16. 63 days. 9 weeks. I’m getting closer.

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