The other day I received a call from the BloodCenter of Wisconsin urging me to donate ASAP as they had less than a one day supply of O- blood, my particular blood type. You can donate whole blood every 8 weeks and since my last donation was in early August I was eligible again. My issue, however, is that I am anemic and you have to have an iron count high enough to donate so I knew I wouldn’t be able to donate that day or the next. I have to take iron supplements to build up my iron so I can donate again, so I made my appointment for this Thursday. As you can see, it isn’t easy for me to donate, but I do what I can to help save the lives of people I don’t even know.
I started donating blood in high school and did so a couple more times until I started getting faint after donating. This was my excuse for not donating. I’m not saying I like needles, that was a fear I first learned to overcome.
When I was a little girl I had to give blood at the doctor's office. I can’t remember why, but I do remember they had about 4 nurses in there holding me down to get the needle in my arm. I was told to think of something else, something I really liked to keep my mind off the actual needle. What do you think a little girl would think of? Going to the playground, having a sleepover, getting a new My Little Pony or a new Barbie doll? Nope, not me, I was thinking of going to McDonald’s and getting a cheeseburger. I think that is because this commercial had just come out and looking back, this could have been me!
Shortly after college I decided to try donating blood again and while I did get a little faint, I knew the importance of my blood type and decided to keep at it.
Here are some facts I found at redcross.org and bcw.edu:
- Only 7% of the population has O- blood, the universal donor.
- Only 5% of the population that is eligible to donate do so.
- Type O negative blood is the preferred type for accident victims and babies needing exchange transfusions.
- Whole blood is only useful to patients for 42 days. After that, it “expires” and must be destroyed.
- Donating blood is completely safe. You cannot contract any diseases from donating blood.
- The body will replace the fluid portion of your blood within 24 hours. It will take a few weeks to replace the red blood cells.
- On September 1, 2008 BloodCenter of Wisconsin began accepting donations from 16-year-olds (with parental consent) who are in general good health and meet the general criteria to donate.
Yes, O- is the most important blood type, but as you can see, I can only receive O- blood. If the hospital knows your blood type they will give you type specific or another match other than O-. If all the O- is used up and I come in needing blood they would have to find O- from another hospital or blood center and there would be nothing they could do for me until that time. So every blood type is important, even for those people that can’t use it.
I have my blood donor card right under my drivers license. If I’m seriously injured I hope the medical person would open my wallet, take out my drivers license and see my blood donor card underneath. This would tell them immediately that I am O- and can only receive O- blood. I really wish all drivers licenses had the blood type listed on it. This would save time, money and resources.
If you have never donated blood I will go with you and help you as much as I can along the way. I will hold your hand, tell you to relax, it will be over in less than an hour (the actual donating takes only 10-15 minutes). And I will even take you to McDonald’s for a cheeseburger or whatever you want.