Wednesday evening I gave blood for the 40th time.
The first time I ever donated blood was when I was in my first year of university. The Bloodmobile came to campus, and if you gave a pint, you got a pint…of beer that is. To clarify, the beer was provided by the Students’ Association and not by the Red Cross, who at the time was still the collector of blood in Canada.
I had fun donating that first time because I was made to feel pretty special. They wanted me to come back after all. Everything went well and I had no problems donating. It didn’t even hurt, honest to goodness. A few weeks after that first donation, I received a letter telling me that I had very special blood. Not only was I blood type O-negative which is the universal donor, but I had also never been exposed to cytomegalovirus (CMV), and so they had designated me as being ‘Code N’…I think that meant ‘Code N for Newborns’ because they would be using my blood for newborn babies. Yay me!
Of course I went back to donate every time the Bloodmobile came to campus. Beer and helping babies? Heck yes! Once I graduated, I would get phone calls regularly asking me to come in and donate, and so I did. No more free pints though – the juice and cookies had to do.
Pregnancies and raising young children meant that I took a few years off from giving blood, but now I am back in the swing of it, donating as often as I can, trying to catch up to Tony who has donated 55 times so far. A little competitive spirit is good for a marriage, yes?
Donating has changed a lot over the years that I have been giving. Canadian Blood Services took over the collection after the Krever Report found there was a lack of confidence in the system after the contaminated blood incidents of the 1980s and 1990s. The process became a lot more rigid and more complex, with a constantly evolving and lengthening questionnaire. It takes a lot longer to donate now than it did twenty years ago but I don’t mind.
The almost festive-like atmosphere of the blood donor clinic has faded too. No one fawns over me and my very special blood anymore. Nor did anyone even wish me a happy doniversary on Wednesday either. Still, the Oreos were as good as ever.
Fawning and accolades aside, I still feel good knowing that I’m doing a good thing when I roll up my sleeve. If you can, why not call and make an appointment?
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From the Canadian Blood Services website:
Who Needs Blood?
Approximately every minute of every day, someone in Canada needs blood. In fact, according to a recent poll, 52 per cent of Canadians say they, or a family member, have needed blood or blood products for surgery or for medical treatment.
The good news is that one blood donation – in just one hour – can save a life.