Roll Up Your Sleeves

keep-calm-and-roll-up-your-sleeveI’ll never stop shouting the importance of donating blood. If you’re a faithful reader, then you know my family’s story—the story we share when people express fear or trepidation about donating blood. In December 2004, my mom developed a rare disease—disseminated intravascular coagulation—and began bleeding internally. When my dad found her in bed, her skin was the color of the gray shirt she was wearing. Our neighbors ushered my brother and me off to school, and my dad called my mom’s best friend Tina, who was then working as a paramedic.

My mom almost died that day. Medically speaking, she should have. She lost more than half of her blood supply, and doctors say she only had a 10 percent chance of surviving. Tina, my mom’s doctors, and emergency personnel were quick-thinking and efficient.

Mom received blood transfusions that day. The average human body contains approximately 1.5 gallons of blood, and she needed every last drop. My dad had donated blood to the Medic Regional Blood Center in Knoxville, Tennessee, earlier that year, and because of that donation, every ounce of blood my mom received was free. Medic covered it all.

But the blood my mom received didn’t come from my dad. Mom wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for generous donors who took the time out of their busy schedules to go to blood drives and donate blood. I’m so thankful for those people. We’ll never know their names, their backgrounds, their stories—but they’ll forever be special to us. Because they gave, my mom is still here today.

While doctors and scientists have made incredible medical advancements over the years, there is still no substitute for blood. It sustains us. We cannot function without blood flowing through us. When you donate blood, you could potentially help save the life of someone’s spouse, sibling, child or friend. One donation alone can save three lives.

Here are some fast facts*:

  • More than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day.
  • Every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood.
  • Of the 38% of American people eligible to donate, less than 10% actually do each year (that’s a low number, guys).
  • The actual blood donation only takes 10–12 minutes. The entire process, however, takes just under an hour and a half. It’s a four-step process: registration, medical history and a mini-physical, followed by the actual donation. Then you get SNACKS! (You get snacks, guys. Free snacks.)
  • The most common reasons cited by people who don’t give blood are: “Never thought about it” and “I don’t like needles.” (To this I say, wimp.)
  • If you began donating at age 17 and donated every 56 days until you reached 76, you would have donated 48 gallons of blood, potentially helping save more than 1,000 lives.

Friends, donating blood is important. It can save someone’s life. I’m an advocate for it because it hits close to home. Blood transfusions saved my mom’s life. So, roll up your sleeves and go donate.

 **All facts and statistics come from the American Red Cross

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