by ANNA WOODS, Staff Writer
If you qualify to donate blood the thought of the process invokes a myriad of reactions. Some scowl in terror or disgust, others are indifferent and some are even excited about donating. For me, I have been so deeply impacted by blood donations that I am a part of the latter. It was blood donated by strangers that saved my father’s life.
My dear old dad was a sergeant in the NYPD when the World Trade Center was attacked. On September 11, 2001 my parents woke up and turned on the news as they would every other day. Upon seeing the coverage of the terrorist attack, my dad got dressed, told my mom that he had to go to work and kissed us goodbye, unsure of everything.
Without hesitation he went to respond to one of the darkest days in American history. He worked at Ground Zero for six long months after the attack. The equipment that was provided to him was intended to protect him from the toxins in the air.
Unfortunately, we learned four years later that the job he loved so much had slowly poisoned him. In 2005, he was diagnosed with a variety of ailments, one being kidney disease. He was placed on dialysis and put on the transplant list. Thankfully, he received a kidney transplant in 2013, which was only possible as a result of blood donations.
During his surgery he received five units of blood from the generosity of five strangers. Without their selflessness my father would not be around today.
According to the New York Blood Center, “4.5 million Americans receive blood transfusions each year and 40,000 pints are transfused each day in the United States.” Sadly, our region’s blood supply has never been lower. Donating blood saves lives, plain and simple.
If you’ve ever wanted to help someone or if you’ve ever wanted to change someone’s life, donating is a perfect opportunity to do so.
The whole process only takes about an hour, which in the grand scheme of things is practically nothing. I know to some, needles may be scary but dealing with chronic illness or going through a traumatic accident is scarier.
When you go to a blood drive you will first fill out a donor registration form. Then you will answer a series of questions regarding disease history, medication usage, and recent travel. Next a technician will check your blood pressure, pulse and temperature. They will also analyze a drop of blood from your finger to measure the hematocrit level.
If you meet all donor requirements, you move on to a donor bed. After that, a technician will finally draw your blood. Lastly, you will be able to indulge in some refreshments, which I think is everyone’s favorite part of the process.
The donation does not only change the life of the recipient but their family is impacted as well. For many, the process seems impersonal. However, you never know when you or a loved one may need blood. Think about how grateful you would be for a stranger’s donation.