Appointment with the Vampire


Twice a year, around Memorial Day and Veterans Day, the Armed Services Blood Program (ABSP) conducts a blood donation drive in our town. The blood donated goes directly to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan who need it. More service personnel are surviving horrific injuries than any other war. Blood donations are a big part of that effort.

Yesterday was my turn to donate. I’m not always able to donate. Since I donated and then received my own blood for my two total knee replacements last year, I had to wait out a year. Sometimes I’m too anemic. We are too rural for the American Red Cross, so I try to donate at least the twice a year when the ABSP comes to town.

Too altruistic? Here are ten selfish reasons to consider if you’re still on the fence about donating:

#10. It’s social. I have always met the most interesting people while donating. Yesterday I met the owner of the fudge store who was donating for the first time because her husband needed several units of blood last year because of a ruptured artery. The military person taking my blood was raised at Fort Devens, Massachusetts and was there when I was a chaplain and social worker for the Army!

#9. Getting through the pre-screening is like running the Boston marathon. Pre-screeing questionnaires do have a purpose, like making sure you weren’t in Europe during the height of Mad Cow Disease. The pre-screening takes longer than it does to actual give your blood.

#8. You’ll feel like a saint. There are questions about sex for money, sex with IV drug users, IV drug use yourself … you get the idea. They have to ask, but since you’re probably NOT going to be donating blood if you engage in those particular extracurricular activities, you’ll t least feel good about your life choices!

#7. You get to skip your workout. Nothing like a legitimate reason to miss going to the gym or doing your regular workout. And you get to feel good about it!

#6. You get to miss work. Most places of employment allow, and even encourage, employees to donate blood. I guarantee the quarterly budget meeting is WAY more painful than having blood sucked out.

#5. It’s like having a mini-physical for FREE. They’ll take your blood pressure, temperature, and check your hemoglobin when you’re there. The American Red Cross will also send you your cholesterol numbers AND you’ll now know your blood type.

#4. It transcends any and all ideologies … political, religious, socio-economic, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, transgendered, and whatever else is floating around out there. It costs you nothing and it gives someone everything. No one cares what you believe.

#3. It’s quick. Your time, and blood, are valued so there are plenty of staff and volunteers to get you in and out. It usually takes no longer than an hour. Where else can you volunteer and not lose a morning or afternoon, not to mention a whole day?!?

#2. You’re treated ┬álike a hero. Let’s think about this: (1) you’re giving up an hour or less; (2) you’re not spending any money; (3) you’re giving away something that will be replenished within 72 hours; (4) they feed you (where else are you encouraged to eat cookies?); (5) they usually give you something (I got a cool t-shirt); and (6) they thank you so profusely, you’d think you’d also given them a kidney!

#1. You’ve given something more precious than money. Sometimes you just don’t have money to give to your favorite charity. Donating costs you nothing and it’s a lifeline, literally, for someone else. Win-win!


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