21 May 2010

giving back

Talia Frenkle/American Red Cross

No, that's not my blood. (Though, oddly enough, it could be.) I'm taking a break from crafty things today to talk about something very important to me. Blood donation. 

Did I lose you? It's a touchy subject for some people. I have several family members that drop like a rock at the sight of blood. And that's OK. Blood donation is not for everyone. But if you're on the fence, and eligible, I hope you'll consider giving it a try.

I first donated blood after the September 11th attacks. That was such a tumultuous time for all of us, and I felt so helpless watching it all on TV. When the Red Cross officials came on the news pleading for donors to help replenish the dwindling blood supply, I rushed right out to donate.  With the exception of my pregnancies and a handful of other interruptions, I've donated blood every 56 days since. I'm a regular.

Donating blood is a no-brainer. It's totally easy. You get cookies and juice afterward. (Some places even give doughnuts, I hear!) And you know that blood is going to directly help someone in need. If you watched Grey's Anatomy last night, you know how important it is to have available blood.

I hear you. You're still not sure. Let me tell you another story.

After J was born, I couldn't wait to get back into my donation rotation. I was still breastfeeding, and my pre-screening showed that my hemoglobin (blood iron level) was low. Very common, especially for nursing moms. So the Red Cross staff member gave me a sheet on foods to eat that would boost my iron levels and sent me on my way. Did you know that consuming calcium at the same time as your main iron source prevents the iron from absorbing? I stopped drinking milk with dinner and tried again in 56 days.

The next time, my hemoglobin was low again. I felt like a failure. Donating was my thing! I was OK with myself for not having time to volunteer elsewhere because I was donating blood. It was my way of giving back, and my only way with two small children in the house. 

I decided to try iron supplements. I took them semi-regularly, because I was no good at remembering to take them.  But you know what? At my next donation attempt, my hemoglobin was just above the passing level. Hooray! I was absolutely ecstatic. It felt so good.

I've continued with the iron supplements and my hemoglobin keeps climbing higher and higher. Someday soon, my body will have fully recovered from my iron depleter precious child, and I won't have to take the supplements anymore.

Right. I've probably lost all of you by now. My point is, even if you're unsure, go in and try it. If there's a problem, the Red Cross folks are very helpful and they'll point you in the right direction. There's no harm in trying, right? 

Make an appointment. Make a commitment. Help someone in need, and get a free cookie. 

You can do it. I believe in you.