Why Do I Give Blood?

I chose to attempt to donate blood today. I was successful for the ninth time in my life. If you’ve read my former posts on donating, you know it isn’t easy for me. But you also know why I do it. And why I will continue to attempt to give blood for the rest of my life. But this post isn’t about the procedure behind a blood donation, it’s about the heart or the reasons for the donor.

After donating today, I went to school to teach. One of my co-workers saw my bandage and quickly commented that he couldn’t give blood because he was too afraid of needles. Another one chimed in that she didn’t like how long the process took from start to finish. And a third remarked that they didn’t understand why I chose to give up my free time to be stabbed with a needle, when I could give to charity in other ways.

Those were all valid feelings and I didn’t want to start a ruckus in front of the students, so I just politely said that I had my reasons and that it wasn’t really that bad. Then I turned and walked away. So now, hours later, after a full day at work followed by our end-of-the-year student showcase, I will type what I really wanted to say to those co-workers. Excuse me while I climb up on my soap box for a hot second.

I wanted to say that you can look away or watch or hold someone’s hand or scream or cry when they stick you, but that it also only pinches for a minute (for most people). I wanted to say that one hour of your life every two months is NOTHING compared to how much time our generation spends idly scrolling through social media. I wanted to say that you can have your phone and you can text your friends while you donate, or read a book, or call your mom, or play trivia crack, or check emails. I wanted to say that I give to charity in a number of different ways and that blood donation actually works out to be one of the shortest commitments of time, not to mention the flexibility of finding a donation center or blood drive that fits for your exact schedule.

But most importantly, I wanted to tell my co-workers who didn’t seem to understand, that I donate blood because IT SAVES LIVES. And yes, I CHOOSE to donate in spite of the apparent drawbacks. Why? Because there are literally hundreds of thousands of people across our country and the world who don’t get to choose. They don’t get to pick whether or not they want a blood transfusion after a car accident. They don’t get to use the excuse that they are scared of needles every time they need a donation to boost blood cells before a chemotherapy treatment. They don’t get to complain about the number of hours they will sit in chairs and get a strangers blood pumped into them. They don’t get to decide if their blood is drawn to rule out yet another possible cause to the disease that is crippling them. Simply put, I choose because they can’t.

To be clear, I don’t think I’m better than my co-workers because I choose to give and they don’t. And I don’t blame them for being scared or disinterested, in fact I actually envy them. Because it tells me that they have never had a loved one need the blood of a stranger. And they haven’t seen first-hand the positive difference it makes in the energy, spirit, and health of a person struggling with disease. When I think about their naivety, I also think about the fact that one day I might not have the choice either. But if that day ever comes, I’m going to thank God for every person like me who does choose to donate because they might just save my life.

For now, I just think about the things I should have said today. And while I wish I’d said more to convince them to join me next time I donate blood, I’m not sure my words would ever be enough. Instead, I remind myself of the old saying that “actions speak louder than words”. So maybe if I keep giving, and I keep showing up to work with bandages, and I keep answering their questions, then they’ll start to see how important blood donation really is. But even if my co-workers never donate blood, they sparked a fire in me that encouraged this post. So maybe because of them, one of you will find a blood drive and sign up. If you do, share your blood donation stories in the comments below!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gail Timmer
    May 22, 2015 @ 12:10:36

    I had a life changing illness and received the gift of a blood transfusion. Thank you for donating!



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