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July 17, 2003

I approached the ordeal with trepidation. I knew there would be pain (mine) involved, and I knew that the people inflicting it on me would actually be happy for the opportunity.

"It's for the children" they would say, preparing their razor-sharp steel implements.

As I waited my turn with the other victims, others finished their turns and were led off to recover from the experience.

That's right -- I donated blood today.

I've been a blood donor on a pretty regular basis since I was 18 - over 20 years. I have no idea how many times total I've been "stuck" - maybe 40, maybe more. More frequently while I was in the Army - they'd line us up, march us to a gym, and tell us to line up to donate or go back to the unit and get to working. They got lots of donors that way....

I actually do pretty well "in the chair." The needle doesn't really bother me, so long as I don't have to watch it going in. I don't flinch, and the phlebotomist calls me brave. Some people don't like giving blood at all; maybe they're afraid of the needle, but they do it anyway - those are the brave ones.

I'm just a guy with type O-negative blood. That's apparently why they tell me it's for the children, though I frankly don't know why kids need O-neg (the "universal donor" type) more than adults might.

I give blood because, well, I don't know. Maybe because my folks raised me right, gave me a sense of civic duty. Maybe because I simply feel charitable. And maybe because my blood type is enough in demand that I get a small thrill out of someone showing me gratitude for something I inherited. I don't know.

But I do know these things: blood banks are perpetually short of all types of blood; one pint of blood can help a lot of people; almost everyone is eligible to donate; and it's an easy thing to do.

So yes, I urge everyone to get out and donate. And I need to do so more frequently myself. Check back in eight weeks and see if I do it again.

Posted by Russ at 09:58 PM, July 17, 2003 in Miscellany

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