I’ve given blood a dozen or so times since I first gave in high school during a school blood drive. After I had children, I just stopped. It wasn’t a conscious decision; it was just one of the many things that fell off the bottom of an always too long to do list. I never gave it much thought until this spring, when a combination of congenital heart defects led my best friend’s son Bowen to need almost constant blood transfusions during his too-short life.
Tomorrow, in memory of Bowen and in honor of all the donors whose blood sustained him during his life, his parents are hosting the first annual Team BoHawk Blood Drive in Indianapolis. The response has been amazing and all 120 appointments on Tuesday have been filled (although the Bloodmobile will be visiting several Ed Martin dealerships in Indy over the course of the summer if you missed out on a chance to give this week! Details will be available soon on their blog).
Even with the community’s amazing outpouring in memory of Bo, the need is still great. Only 3%* of the US population gives blood, even though more than 38,000 donations are needed each day in the US to meet the ever-constant need**. The laundry-list of blood donation statistics seems daunting, as does the fact that restrictions (including a rather antiquated one disqualifying sexually-active gay men from donating), leave less than 38% of the population qualified to give. If that wasn’t enough to encourage you to donate, consider some of the stories.
How about Nisa, a Thalassemia sufferer, who has survived to adulthood because of the blood transfusions she receives every three weeks. Or Luke, who survived a horrific car accident due to the combination of fast-thinking doctors and a plentiful blood supply. Hayley, like Bo, received enough blood one day to completely replace her blood supply, and it helped her survive leukemia. In light of the recent devastation across the southern United States, Christine’s story of surviving injuries sustained in an encounter with a massive tornado hits especially close to home.
Whether you know someone who has received blood products, or are simply moved by these stories, please consider donating blood sometime soon at one of the two main organizations who handle blood donation in the US:
Your donation will help off-set what the Red Cross describes as a seasonal drop in donations during the summer months, and can save as many as three lives, depending on how the blood is used. It will also honor the memory of Bowen, and of others for whom donated blood gave the gift of hope and life.
Can I give?
After fear of needles, ineligibility to donate is often listed as a reason that people choose not to donate. There are many misconceptions about the rules, so be sure you check the eligibility FAQs (and here) or contact your local blood bank to be sure!
Learn More About Blood
Want to learn more about the science behind blood? Check out this informative series, with sections for elementary-aged children and middle/high-schoolers: My Blood, Your Blood. There are resources for adults too! Check out Discovery Health’s information on How Blood Works.