Tuesday, September 26, 2006



I have always been a big, nay, HUGE fan of blood donation. I donate as often as I can, as often as the bone marrow permits (every 56 days) and as often as the schedule allows. In the INOVA Blood Donation system, I am currently 3 pints from my first gallon. That rules. I'm going to get a "1 Gallon" pin and probably a t-shirt. In all, I've donated over 2 gallons over my lifetime. Which means that over 50 people have ultimately benefited from my donation -- and that feels good, people.

I spent today at the main office for the INOVA Blood Donor Services in the Dulles Towne Center. Which was cool. Much like seeing the waste treatment plant showed me what happens to my poop when I flush, or seeing where my burger was borne in the recesses of Red Robin, this site visit explained to me the intricate and elaborate process my pint o' O+ goes through. (Sidebar: be good to me. O+ is the universal donor. You could be getting my blood.)

At INOVA: Dulles, not only can they accomodate a large number of donors on site, but they perform the testing for all of the donated blood from all of the INOVA donation sites and blood drives. They store it on site, too. All of it. And they ship it from this site to 15 area hospitals.

And while blood may not be your thing -- a place such as this is literally awe-inspiring. This place deals in life. Everything they do there promotes and attempts to ensure life.

So imagine my absoloute shock and indeed HORROR when I saw today's blood supply. All of it. People, no lie. If that's all we have today and potentially tomorrow, we, as a metropolitan area, are in a whole heaping helping of hema-trouble. I probably could have held all those bags in my arms. And when they run out, they're out.

People just aren't aware of the dwindling supply because they.. well, they just aren't. Take a look here. Scroll down and see the levels of your blood type available today.

Blood donation isn't the civic-duty it used to be. Once upon a time, our parents and our grandparents donated blood frequently and reguarly because it was what made you a good American. It helped a war effort. It was "doing your part" for society. It gave, costlessly, to others what they did not have for themselves. What has happened? Apparently America now assumes that someone else is donating enough for everyone. They're assuming that if I should need blood at a hospital, it'll be there. They're assuming that it hurts too much, takes too much of their precious time and their little pint won't make the difference.

It does.

Should the DC-Metro area (and indeed, I'm sure the blood banks outside of this area are as bare as ours.. ) suffer any large-scale crisis, there would not be enough blood. Let me repeat: THERE WOULD NOT BE ENOUGH BLOOD. Sure, everyone donated like crazy for 9-11, but did you know that it really didn't help those injured during 9-11? The people needing blood on 9-11 only had access to blood stores donated a week prior to the attacks.

Please, give blood. It doesn't hurt. Like this blog, it's a quick sting and a burn. It may cause you some anxiety to think about needles and veins and such, but don't look. Anemic? Take 2 multivitamins the night before and snack on some rasins and a steak. Seriously. Think of that person who has anxiety about whether or not their 6 year old child with leukemia will get their transfusion today or not. That child doesn't mind needles and would gladly take the prick of it. The anxiety of a wife with children wondering if her husband will survive the night after suffering injuries from being hit by a drunk driver.

Otherwise, don't assume that there will be a bobblie-red bag with your name on it when you might (heaven forbid) need it. It IS about being an American citizen. But it's also about being a Global Citizen. Help your unseen fellow man and give a pint. It takes 15 minutes to donate, maybe a total of 30 -45 minutes in the blood mobile or the donation center -- but it could add precious years to someone's life. Be brave. Take one for the team -- and give one for the team at the same time.

Blood truly is the gift of life. And we can't ignore the absolute desperate need for it. I was told today that people are more likely to give if they are asked personally to give. Consider this my plea to all of you to donate this week.

Alright. I'm off my soap box. Carry on.

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