Saturday, October 16, 2010

Don't Be An Asshole: Donate Blood Today

Blood donation is something I've been pretty passionate about for as long as I can remember. I've had more than one blood transfusion in my own life, and my uncle died before I was born as the result of hemophilia, a blood clotting disorder. So why the harsh tone? Well, here's the thing: most people are eligible to donate blood, yet only around 5% of the population donates blood regularly. Blood donation requires almost no effort on your part, and will almost immediately benefit patients in your local community. Here are some facts about donating blood that I've combed from various blood donation center websites, including Carter Bloodcare here in Waco.
  • Blood is useful in several different ways, and each use has a specific shelf life, making regular donation that much more critical.
    • Whole blood can be used for about 21 days after donation.
    • Red cells can be used for 42 days after they are donated. They are used in the treatment of accident victims, to replace blood lost during surgery, to treat burn victims and to increase the blood's oxygen-carrying capacity.
    • Platelets have a shelf life of about 5 days. They are used to treat bone marrow failure, leukemia and cancer patients, low platelet count or other conditions causing abnormally functioning platelets.
  • Blood donation is compatible with all major religions.
  • A healthy donor can donate whole blood every 56 days, plasma every 30 days, red blood cells every 4 months, and platelets every 2 weeks, or up to 24 times a year. Think about that- you have the opportunity to help 24 cancer patients every year by doing something that will directly benefit them in the immediate future. Donating money is nice, but you can't inject money into a cancer patient (trust me on this). 
  • Blood donation fits perfectly with your political ideology!
    • Democrat- donate your resources to help those in need where the private sector has failed them.
    • Republican- help the private sector thrive by donating blood to support independent blood banks.
    • Tea Party- I heard Obama hates blood donation.
  • Platelet donation is especially important if you're eligible. Because they have such a short shelf life, platelets need to be continuously donated to meet the growing demand. Also, platelet donation is better for the patient, since it allows a unit of platelets to be taken from one donor. Otherwise, platelets have to be filtered and assembled from as many as 12 whole blood donors, increasing the difficulty of the donee's body in accepting the donation.
  • You never know when someone you know is going to need a blood transfusion. Automobile accident victims often require as much as 50 units of blood, and with all these idiots texting and driving these days, it's only going to get worse. 
  • Free mini-physical. They take your blood pressure, pulse, temperature, check your iron levels, and once you donate, you can check your cholesterol online. Some places, like Carter Bloodcare, even allow you to track your cholesterol online with each donation.  They also check your blood for all kinds of diseases, including hepatitis, HIV, leukemia, and more, and will notify you privately of anything you need to be concerned about.
  • Free cookies and juice. Do not overlook the value of this. Not only do you get to be morally superior to other people AND directly benefit your community, you get PAID IN SUGAR. It's like winning the Nobel Prize without having to go hang out with a bunch of nerds in some socialist country in Scandanavia.
Looking down your nose at people is so much easier in that angled chair.
 Now, let's look at some reasons people give for not donating blood:
  • "I'm afraid of needles." Tough shit. You know what I'm afraid of? Getting in a car accident and not having enough blood around because people like you were too scared to get poked with a needle. Stop being a tittybaby and go give blood. 
  • "I'm too busy." Bullshit. I guarantee you if you were diagnosed with cancer, you wouldn't say "sorry doc, I'm too busy for treatment. I'll come see you in a few months when things settle down." Of course not, you'd want to start treatment immediately. So if you can make time to save your own life, why can't you make time to save someone else's? Besides, you and I both know that we all piss away an inordinate amount of time dicking around on the internet (don't deny it, you are reading my blog right now). If you can find time to visit Perez Hilton, you can find time to donate blood.
  • "Miscellaneous." Again, I'm calling shenanigans. Sure, there are valid reasons not to donate blood, but you should at least try and let a trained professional determine if you can give or not.
This is who you help when you donate blood. Afraid of needles? So is he. 
The bottom line is, if you can give blood, you should. Because donating blood helps out others directly, and if you can help someone at no cost to yourself, and don't, well, you're just an asshole.


amanda said...

Justin I just have to say this is probably the best post I have ever seen you write. You should totally go into advertising with all your statistics, facts, and opinionated answers. I loved it!

Paul Gosling said...

Great article, I've been a blood donor for years, came across this article researching some facts for a speech I'm giving next week and darn it I feel like I've been converted all over again!