Thursday, August 23, 2012

His: Giving Back to the Community

   (This isn't technically a hobby but this activity takes up a  decent amount of my free time so I am posting about it. Plus it is something I feel strongly about.)

             One of things I have always tried to do is give back to the community. I know I can't save the world alone but if I can do a little, it's better than sitting back and doing nothing. Amanda and I donate money to support the local community along with our two World Vision children but this post is about something else that money can not buy and something that could potential save someone's life - donating blood.

          I have been a blood donor for approx 17 years now. It all started when I was in 10th or 11th grade. The school asked for volunteers to donate blood and that all students that went would miss the last class of the day. I looked at my schedule and realized that was maths class so I was already interested. Then they announced you got free milkshakes and that they are some of the best milkshakes Tamworth has to offer. I believe at that point I was off my chair and running to get a consent form as I am a sucker for a good milkshake. I was a little nervous but it didn't hurt too much and a short while later I had completed my first donation. When I lived in Australia the ladies would schedule my next appointment so I wouldn't forget to show up. In my current city I don't live close enough to a blood bank so my donations are a little more sporadic and dependent on nearby blood drives.

This machine is used to collect
platelets and then returns the rest
of the blood to the donor.
           About 6 weeks ago the local chapter of the American Red Cross called me and told me that I was an excellent candidate to donate platelets and wondered if I would be interested in coming in to donate. I had heard about this process but never  looked into it. Basically they hook you up to a machine which takes out about a 1/4 pint(62ml) of blood at a time and processes it, removing the platelets and then returning the rest of the blood along with some saline solution to you before repeating the process. The neat thing is that they only need to use one needle and it is smaller than the one they use for regular (whole) blood donations. It does take a while longer (about 2 hours for the donation) but they have plenty of drinks and snacks on hand plus a personal TV/DVD player and a good selection of movies to watch so the time goes quickly enough. You can donate platelets every week if you want but for right now I am donating every other week.

        So why do I donate blood and platelets? Mostly because it's something I can do to help out those in need. I donate blood because I would never want someone to be in an accident or surgery and not be able to get the blood they need to survive or get through surgery. There is no synthetic blood or substitute so if not enough donors step up there is a real possibility that there will be no blood when someone needs it. I donate platelets because they use them primarily for cancer patients and both my mum and mum-in-law have been affected by cancer and I would like to help out others who are affected by this terrible illness.

     If you have thought about donating blood or platelets and haven't done it yet I encourage you to make an appointment or go to a blood drive. If you haven't donated in a while, why not find a blood drive near you? Here's some links to help you out:

American Red Cross  Info about donating blood. This should answer a lot of your questions that you may have.  Easy way to find a blood bank or blood drive near you. More information about platelet donation.

Australian Red Cross Information about donating blood to the Australian Red Cross Make an appointment online for blood, plasma or platelet donations. Information about plasma or platelet donations.

Check out the links above and consider making a donation soon. It costs nothing and the reward is the chance to save one life or even more with a single donation. Remember only about 3% of eligible adults make regular donations and many of us will need a blood transfusion at some point in our lives.

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