This post was kickstarted by a tweet from a virtual friend, Darryl (@lovingthebike). Darryl linked a blog post from his website called "Pay It Forward." (Great read - go get it here.) Two guests write about how they received from others who pay it forward and now try to emulate that in their lives. That got me thinking. How can, and how do, I pay it forward? Below is one way I do....
Ok, time for a plug for the American Red Cross.
As you know, you can do blood donations through the Red Cross - at blood drives like the ones we periodically have at work, or by going to your local Red Cross office.
You can make blood donations every other month (56 days, or 8 weeks to be precise). And the actual donation part only takes a few minutes. (Getting from the reception desk to the table where you actually donate takes a little longer.)
Another way to give is to donate platelets. Platelets are used by patients fighting cancer, have undergone transplants, or otherwise have weakened immune systems. A single donation can provide up to three therapeutic doses. (In contrast, it takes up to six whole blood donations to provide enough platelets for one dose.) Follow this link for more information from the Red Cross.
After donating at the first office blood drive (last June) since I started last February, I was notified by the Red Cross that I am an ideal platelet donor candidate. My count is very high and they need A+ donors. I have made three such donations in the last two months.
My goal for 2012 is to make a donation either platelet and/or whole blood at least once a month. I'd like to do more, but it does take a lot of time.
In addition to the screening process you go through for every donation (which can take up to an hour), it can take up to an additional two hours for the donation. And the preferred method is the double-arm, where blood is drawn from one arm and returned (sans platelets) in the other. Of course, you can't use your arms during that time, so plan on bringing an iPod to listen to tunes, an iPad to watch a flick, or be at the mercy of whatever channel they have on the tube that day.
The Red Cross staff and volunteers are the BEST! while you donate. They will get you anything you need - a blanket, something to drink, adjust your pillow, etc. The ones I have worked with have all be awesome.
A couple of hints:
1) When they go to stick you, if you hate needles (like I do!), wiggle your toes - it focuses your attention on your feet and away from your arm. And do try to relax. When you're tense, your blood vessels constrict and it just makes it harder.
2) Eat something a couple hours before you donate. If your stomach is too emplty, you won't have enough blood sugar in your system and you may feel light headed afterwards. True for either blood or platelet donations.
Giving blood and/or platelets is an easy way to help out in your community. A way to "pay it forward" if you will.
Thanks for reading.