By Eilene Guy – Red Cross Volunteer
Last Saturday was a red-letter day for me: My husband donated blood for the first time.
I’ve nagged the poor man for years to join me, but he always deferred. That seemed odd: He’s generous with his time and talents, he’s a compassionate person and he’s not needle-phobic (that I know of).
“It just wasn’t my thing, but after the years of incessant bugging, the nationwide blood shortage finally tipped the scales,” he admitted with a grin.
Fortunately, the phlebotomist we had at the American Red Cross blood drive was really skillful. I know, because she “stuck” me too.
“If you want to look away, now would be the time,” she said. “A pinch and a little burn,” and the needle was in — – with hardly a pinch a burn. Honest.
I have the Red Cross Blood Donor App on my phone and I’m looking forward to seeing where my blood goes. Will it go as a whole blood transfusion? Or will it be separated into the component parts —– plasma, platelets and red blood cells —– to potentially save three lives?
In January, the Red Cross declared a national blood crisis because the blood supply had fallen to the lowest levels in more than a decade amid the latest surge in COVID-19 cases. And severe winter weather forced the cancellation of more than 300 blood drives that month, which added to the emergency.
The crisis is impacting health care nationwide, including right here in northern Ohio. A friend of mine’s heart surgery was delayed until there was enough blood on hand of her individual blood type. Imagine how nerve-wracking that would be.
Apparently the number one reason people don’t donate blood is that they haven’t been asked, so I’ve set myself a winter goal of asking, urging, convincing at least five people to donate blood for the first time. I hope if they do it once, they’ll become repeat donors.
If you’re reading this, consider yourself asked: Please, give donating blood a try. What have you got to lose? And think of what the recipient of that blood has to gain, be they an accident victim, surgery patient, parent undergoing a difficult childbirth, or person with an on-going need, such as someone with cancer or sickle-cell disease.
To find a blood drive near you, go to http://www.redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS. Be sure to make a reservation: That cuts down on the wait time for all donors and the Red Cross certainly doesn’t want to turn anyone away.
Please, give the gift that can’t be manufactured. There is no substitute for blood, and the only way to collect it is from generous donors.