Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard all the reasons for donating blood. We need 41,000 blood donors per day in the U.S. to keep up with the need, and every two seconds someone in our country needs blood. Although it might be more efficient to simply send that guy to Canada, there are still few good excuses for not donating. Less than 10% of us give blood even though a third of us are eligible. That’s a shame.
I have a good friend who’s come up with a reason for not donating every year for the past forty. That takes a lot of creativity to come up with that many excuses. The truth is he’s afraid of getting stuck with a needle. I have a feeling that if he needs a transfusion some day he won’t use that line.
So as I sat there on the padded Passavant slab last week I started making a mental list of the Top Ten Best Reasons for Donating Blood.
1. You get to play with a rubber ball. One of the funniest sights I’d seen all week was a group of grown men lying on their backs squeezing rubber balls, stars, and I think one even had a duck. My friend Joe Tapscott seemed to especially enjoy his brief excursion back to his childhood, but he’s a cop and perhaps he was simply working out.
2. Each participant gets a free mini-physical. For example, I now know that my hemoglobin clocks in at 14.1. I have no idea where my hemoglobin is located, but if I ever find it I’ll know its rating.
3. When you talk through the list of possible reasons not to donate you’re allowed to share the most intimate details of your life with another human being. You can confess . . . even if you’re Protestant. They ask you to answer a list of questions the answers to which you’d never share with your mother. It’s a spiritual laxative.
4. Perhaps the most noticed perk for opening your veins is the treat of orange juice and cookies awaiting you once you stop bleeding. A few folks come to donate blood but are turned away for various reasons. I’ve not had the nerve to ask if they get a cookie.
5. People at the donation center are nice. Oh, you’ll occasionally run into a white-gowned grouch but that’s the exception. You have something they want and they’re happy to have you give it up.
6. You have plenty of blood to spare and if you have a weight problem you’ll come home exactly one pint lighter. . . not counting the cookie.
7. It’s the only time in my life someone has admonished me to not skip a meal.
8. They wrap your arm up like a mini-mummy when you’re done and you can make up some really great lies to tell your friends that afternoon about how you received your battle scars. At various times I’ve told the students in my classes that I was attacked by a Siberian Huskie while trying to snatch a small Alaskan child from it’s jaws, and once they actually believed that I had my elbow removed because a helpless child in Bangladesh was born joint-less.
9. There’s nothing more delightful than spending an hour around truly nice people and the chances of running into a butthead in the donation line is rather slim. It’s a selfless act and so you likely to spend a few minutes chatting with some mightily generous folks.
10. They wait on you. Sure, they’re taking something rather vital while you’re lying there, but for fifteen or twenty minutes they’ll attend to your every groan. I had to put a halt to my fake groaning a few years ago when they asked me to stop. A local grade school was taking a tour of the hospital and they let the little ones poke their head into the donation room to show them that it’s an easy, painless process. Just to give the kids something memorable to talk about that evening at dinner I threw my head backwards into a spasm and shouted, “Oh dear God! They’ve taken all my blood!” The teacher with them that day knew me but now claims she doesn’t. I think that next time she should teach a lesson on having a sense of humor.
So stop piddling around. If you’re able, do it. It’s trite to say it, but the bottom line is that because you did, someone might live.