And now for an important announcement from the New York Blood Center:
NEW YORK, NY, OCTOBER 24, 2006 - With the busy, year-end holiday season fast approaching, New York Blood Center (NYBC) is urging everyone eligible to consider giving the best gift of all this holiday season - the gift of life - with a blood or platelet donation.
"A safe and adequate blood supply is essential to the health of any community," reports Dr. Robert Jones, NYBC President & CEO. "That's especially true in the holiday season as travel and the potential for accidents increases. Yet the holiday season also historically sees fewer donations and severe blood shortages. Therefore, we are asking all eligible residents of the greater New York/New Jersey community to help prevent a year-end blood shortage by giving a 'one size fits all' gift with no shopping required."
Who Can & Should Donate?
Eligible donors include those people at least age 16 (in NY) or 17 (in NJ) who weigh a minimum of 110 pounds, are in good health and meet all Food & Drug Administration and NY and NJ State Department of Health donor criteria. "The reality is less than 2% of people in our local community donates, which is far behind the nationwide blood donor participation rate of 5%," pointed out Dr. Jones. "We also need greater diversity within our donor base here in New York and New Jersey so we can better match the very precise transfusion needs of chronically transfused patients and those with uniquely inherited blood antigen patterns," added Dr. Jones.
I try to donate blood about three or four times per year and made a donation this morning. I strongly encourage anyone who is eligible to donate blood but has not done so to make an effort to donate this holiday season. It generally takes about an hour to an hour and a half, starting with the completion of the screening form, meeting with a medical screener, and then the actual donation of the blood itself, which itself takes no more than fifteen minutes.
Some of the questions on the questionnaire are very personal, and for me, the most irksome is the one that asks if you have ever had sex with someone who lives in, or was born in Africa. Being the honest person that I am, I have to explain to the screener that more than ten years ago I had a girlfriend who was born in Ivory Coast but grew up in France. Ivory Coast is not on the list of problem countries, but most of the screeners have to consult their manual to verify this. It’s not really that big a deal, it just delays the screening interview and examination (they do take your blood pressure, temperature, pulse, and prick your finger to get a drop of blood to test your iron levels) for a minute or so.
I imagine that most people shy away from donating blood because they do not like to have such a big needle inserted into their arm. Personally, I am not phased by the needle, and in fact I use reverse psychology on myself by eagerly anticipating the needle penetrating my skin. Yeah, I know, it's crazy, but it works for me. And for those who might need something more tangible than just the feeling that you are doing something good for the community, sometimes the Blood Center will offer small materialistic benefits like gift cards. For my donation today, I will be getting a $10.00 gift card for Barnes & Noble. When I receive it in the mail, maybe I will use it towards Richard Dawkins’ new book “The God Delusion”.