Monday, 29 October 2012

Giving The Gift Of Life

    When I was a kid I could not wait until I hit 18.  When I was 18 I could donate blood.  For the life of me I do not not know why it was that that was so important to me, but it was.  I felt like I could change the world I guess.  I gave blood for the first time my first year at York University.  There was a Blood Donor Clinic in Central Square.  I felt like I had hit the big leagues, I was now an adult, because I had donated blood!  From that time forward I would give blood whenever I saw a blood donation.  I could not understand why on earth everyone that could would not donate blood.  It's no big deal, it doesn't hurt (o.k., it's a little uncomfortable), it takes about an hour of your time, and you can save someone's life.
    This pride in donation became more pronounced after I needed to have a blood transfusion.  When I ruptured my spleen in our accident, I very nearly bled to death.  I had lost so much blood that by the time that the inept hospital noticed that I was bleeding to death, I had nearly bled to death.  When I was transported from the Napanee Hospital to the Kingston General, I had a bag of blood going into both arms.  If people had not taken the time out of their day to donate blood, I would be dead.  That sounds extremely overly dramatic, but it in fact completely true.  That accident had used almost the equivalent to the amount of blood I had donated over 15 years ( I had needed between 8 to 10 units of blood).
     Today there was a blood Clinic in Tweed.  Apparently there were no more spaces to be filled, and I was unable to donate today.  Unknown to Christopher his name had made the list.  He went for his appointment at 4:30.  He rolled his eyes when he noticed that I had brought in the camera.  "You're writing a blog about this aren't you?"  I just smiled and nodded.  "I'm here to make your life more interesting." I told him.  He rolled his eyes and sighed.  I was a little put out that I was unable to donate, and then I began to think about it.  The reason that I was not able to donate was because they had filled every space.  That was a good thing, that was a really good thing.

    It was kind of interesting watching blood donation from somewhere other than the chair.  I noticed that there were like 5 bags all stuck together, and I knew that we did not fill up that many bags, so I asked the nurse who was taking Christopher's blood.  Christopher just shook his head.  Apparently if any air touches the blood at any point it is contaminated and not able to be used.  The bags are all linked so that they can test the blood without it ever being contaminated by air.  I have to say I felt a little more secure knowing that our blood is that well protected.

    I also discovered that this branch of the Canadian Blood Services comes from Kingston.  They travel all around this area collecting blood.  They stay in Kingston three days a week, and travel the other two.  I guess that it wouldn't get boring.

    After Christopher had filled his bag of blood, and then waited the prescribed five minutes with pressure on his arm, it was time for him to move along to his favourite part of blood donation, the snack table.  At the snack table nice volunteers offer you cookies and your choice of juice, coffee, or water.  The big kid, I mean Christopher chose a juice box.

    He was most delighted to discover that he had the very last package of Oreo Cookies.  Somehow the very last packaged tasted so much more delicious. He was a little disappointed when one of the volunteers heard him comment on the fact that he had the very last Oreos, and she went into the back and brought out several more bags.

    From start to finish I think it took about an hour for Christopher to fill out his forms and donate blood and then eat his treat.  An hour of your time is nothing when you think about the life that you are saving by doing this.  When we donate in Tweed it is more like a social visit with all of your friends and neighbours.  If you are a regular blood donor I say THANK YOU, maybe you were one of the people who helped to save my life.  If you are not a blood donor... why not?  I can assure you that you are going to feel like a hero when you leave, knowing that you have given someone the gift of life.  I dare you all to get out there!

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