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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The reason I donate blood

Published: October 12, 2012
Section: Opinions

The blood drive has just ended in our Brandeis community. Thank you to all of the people who were able to donate blood and save a few lives. I would like to preface this article by mentioning that I have been unable to donate blood for the last couple of years. Between the various places I’ve visited and my weight, I am not usually able to give blood. When I am, eligible to donate, I attempt to give blood but then proceed to either pass out or not have enough fluid in my system or enough blood to donate. In other words, I’ve tried but only succeeded a few times. I would award myself an A plus for intention but a C minus for execution.

That fact, of course, does not limit my respect for anyone willing to get pricked to donate blood. Considering what it is that giving blood does for the community, a little pinch on your arm and a bruise for a day are nothing in comparison.

What does giving blood do for the community? Statistics reinforce the positive outcomes that giving blood creates. One bag of blood you donate will, on average, save three peoples’ lives. To say the least, this is a pretty incredible feat of medicine. Doctors are so efficient with modern technology that they can use one of your pints to save three people. This of course neglects serious injuries and traumas, since they usually need much more blood. But even if your blood is only a portion of the blood needed to save someone, it is still an enormous contribution.

But donating blood is more than just numbers and averages. When you donate blood, you perform an act that most people are unaware of: you are consciously consenting to give some of your life to those who are in greater need. And that is an important distinction to make, something that money or influence can never truly replicate.

If you are unable to donate blood but are able to donate money to the Red Cross, that is still incredible. But money is not the same as your blood, the substance that quite literally keeps you going. Roughly three months after donating, your blood will regenerate back to normal levels. Your money, assuming you have a job, also regenerates—but you can live without that money with no problem. Without blood, you will die in nearly every case.

There is, of course, the flip side of the coin. Not to sound paranoid, but you have no idea when you will need blood in the future. Knowing that so many people are willing to give a bit of themselves in order for you to live, in the event that you do need it, reveals the character of those people.

When people donate blood on a large scale, it shows the character of not only the people but the community as a whole. Being a part of a community that is very active with blood donations means that these people are willing to give some of their lives to help those who need it. Considering that this is not a mutually exclusive feeling, a community that gives in this respect probably also gives back in other ways.

At Brandeis, for example, we have many students, staff and faculty who donate blood. But we also have so many other community service groups at Brandeis, and not just through the Waltham Group. A community that donates blood is the community that donates time to other social issues.

If you are unable to donate blood for whatever reason, you shouldn’t feel bad or morally wrong. As a person who can’t donate all that frequently, I know that it’s not because I don’t want to, rather that the Red Cross doesn’t want bad blood or to cause me any injury.

Even if the reason is that you can’t stand needles, you can help in so many other ways. You can even volunteer at the Brandeis Blood Drive; you may not be giving blood, but you are donating something just as special to you, your time.

Blood drives are one of the most refined ways for you to show who you are and make a difference for someone you may never meet.