Thursday, April 30, 2009

This is Why I Give Blood

I gave blood for the first time back in 2001 or 2002 shortly after my late Grandpa had surgery to remove his kidneys. As a result of that surgery he had to go to dialysis three times a week to have his blood filtered. There were many times when he needed someone else's blood given to him because of his condition. My dad's dad was an amazing person with a big heart, a big smile, and an outgoing personality. I miss him a lot. He was someone I looked up to in so many different ways and he was a joy to everyone he came in contact with. One thing that really makes me sad is the fact that Cade never got to meet him. Sometimes Cade will make an expression (usually a smile) and it will remind me of my Grandpa.

So I started giving blood as kind of a tribute to my Grandpa who was on dialysis. It was my little way of symbolically giving it to him even though we lived in different states. Even now that he is gone I still try to make it to the blood center every eight weeks.

I went a couple days ago and I was pretty overdue (last donation was in January). During the process of donating, I asked the nurse (phlebotomist I believe?) if they were in short supply of any particular type of blood. I am B+, which is a fairly rare type; according to this website, only 9.4% of the population has B+.

Since we had been out of town for a couple weeks we hadn't heard about the stabbing that had occured in Owensboro the week before. Stories here and here. Apparently this guy is type B+ and at the time of my donation the hospital was asking the blood bank to keep a large number of units of B+ on hot standby because they were still going through a lot of blood.

It had never hit home like that for me. As she took the bag of my blood out of the room I watched it and knew that there was a good chance it would be pumped into a person about my age that was fighting for survival. I haven't seen or heard any reports about him in the last couple days, so I don't know how he's doing. The reason it hit home is that every other time in the past I just knew it was going into this amorphous "bank" of blood that would eventually be used. I never had a face or name, which is what made it more real and a little more intense for me this time.

My resolve has strengthened to not be delinquent in the future. This experience also made me want to keep myself as healthy as possible in order to donate blood of the highest quality. And I hope that by reading this some of you will decide to go give blood. Just because a name or a face isn't available doesn't mean every drop isn't needed.

1 comment:

Velma Brown said...

Matt: Boy was that story interesting. I, too, gave blood often before my cancer (they won't take me now) because I was o+ and it was the universal type that could be used often. So glad to hear you are continuing to give especially since it is in memory of your grandfather!!!!
Love, Velma