Growing up, whenever my sister or I got in trouble, my mom would try to make us feel guilty by saying, “I nearly died having you guys and this is the thanks I get!” My dad would remind us that both my sister and I were born premature. Unfortunately, my mom needed emergency blood transfusions just to bring us in this world, and we are here only because of the kindness of volunteer blood donors.
It’s funny — well, more so ironic — that even though I listened to my mom’s testimony about how blood donors helped when she was close to death, the idea of signing up to do the same was never something I thought to do. Until this year.
I’m 18 years old and became eligible to give blood about a year ago. Since coming of age, my mom has given me the side-eye whenever she heads to the blood center to donate and I don’t join her. After her last donation, she finally came out and asked me “What’s up?” She was legit curious about why I hadn’t followed in her footsteps and started giving blood.
Facts replaced lingering doubts ahead of my first blood donation
I was honest and admitted to having some real concerns about whether I would be OK if I donated blood. I wondered, “What if I need my blood later, could I get it back?” And I grimaced at the thought of a needle entering my arm. “What if it hurts and I feel queasy after?” I had so many questions.
So, we sat down together and pulled up the Red Cross website to answer them.
I learned that our bodies naturally replenish the blood that we donate and it’s safe to give blood every 56 days. I’d have to eat a healthy meal leading up to my donation and drink an extra 16 ounces of water to make sure I had a good blood donation. That seemed very doable.
After thinking it over, I figured there was no harm in donating and immediately signed up to do my part. Giving blood directly impacts my community. Every blood donor helps to save more than one life every time they give.
I’m passionate about volunteering. When I compared the act of giving blood to my volunteer work at local food pantries, it was like, if I can help stock groceries to feed families in need, then I should donate my blood to make sure hospitals have blood available to treat patients in need.
Patients rely on diverse blood donors
I found out that people with sickle cell disease really depend on donors like me. They are mostly Black people and can require a lot of blood transfusions from folks of the same race or who have a similar ethnicity. I have to mention the mothers like mine who need blood transfusions after having a baby, cancer patients who count on transfusions to make it through chemotherapy, people who expect to have surgeries and those who undergo emergency operations. Blood can’t be manufactured in a facility, so all these people depend on the generosity of donors for lifesaving treatments.This Black History Month, I want to inspire more people to join me in becoming a consistent blood donor. It’s a legacy that more of our people have to start in order to help our community when they need us the most. The Red Cross has a kind and caring staff who make it easy to give. The ladies who looked out for me during my donation were all super nice and checked on me to make sure I was good as soon as I walked in the door. Plus, the post-donation snack station is lit! Take my word for it and schedule your appointment today.