Type O! I’m Positively Negative.

I gave blood today for the first time in over a year.  Seems having cancer (specifically not a blood cancer) does not disqualify you from donation once your treatment has been completed.  And nothing makes me feel better than dropping a pint of sweet O-.  Everybody at the drive makes you feel like such a hero for participating, and you get cookies and a sticker before you leave (which ranks blood donation ever so slightly higher than voting).   Another “personal best” for me was my donation time ~  a record 6 minutes!  I felt like an Olympic sprinter….who gets to lie down the entire time.   My phlebotomist made a big deal of thanking me for coming back to donate after my heath issue hiatus.  Believe me, the pleasure was all mine.

The other nice thing I noticed about today’s drive was the high percentage of “young” donors (i.e. people who look young enough to be one of my kids and defer to me as if I were one of their mothers’ dotty friends).    I like seeing familiar faces, too.  I try to donate at the same neighborhood site, because they have a drive the last Thursday of every month, but today it felt a little bit like being in a high school gym.  So if you were on the fence about opening up a vein to help your fellow-man, please  consider these interesting blood facts courtesy of the Mayo Clinic:

  • Only 5 percent of eligible donors across the nation donate blood, but the number of transfusions nationwide increases by 9 percent every year.
  • Whole blood donors can donate as frequently as every 56 days. A benefit from donating this often is that you receive a mini-physical once every two months. (You self-report your weight — no judgement,  they won’t weigh you, and you still get the cookies.)
  • Each whole blood donation can help as many as three people.
  • On average, a hip replacement typically uses one unit of blood, a cardiac bypass 2 units, a heart transplant 2 units, and a liver transplant 10 units!
  • Blood cannot be manufactured. It can only come as a gift from people.   (the bold/underline emphasis is all mine, Napsters)
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15 thoughts on “Type O! I’m Positively Negative.

  1. i am “on the team” and agree that blood donation is an easy “good deed doing activity”.

    however…. we now have a new competition (in addition to our words with friends and scramble with friends melees)…. who can bleed faster!!! 6 minutes??? sounds like a challenge, but i am up for it, lol!!!!

    • Hi Notoriuos! You are On! Although I think my quick time was due to both pent-up demand and 100% hydration. I’ve found that to be the key to success.

  2. Hi I am new to your blog! I read your story in the rwj newsletter and I wanted to reach out to you! I just had my thyroid removed and the lymph glands surrounding it last month. I also have papillary thyroid cancer. I am due to undergo the RAI treatment in a few weeks and I was wondering if you had any advice or suggestions- I am a little nervous:(. I look forward to the day when I can be at the point where I can donate blood again too:)

    • Hi Jess! Thanks for swinging by, and I’m happy to hear your surgery is in the rear-view mirror. If I can offer any insights, I’d say read the message boards with a grain of salt. The hardest part of RAI treatment for me was the low-iodine diet and the isolation period. I did not feel sick at all (lost about 5 lbs that I happily gained back when I could eat dairy again) and was able to work from home for the whole isolation period. Stock up on DVDs and escapist books to distract you. Remember it’s only a few weeks of vigilance and then you are free to get back to life.

  3. I have to confess I have never donated blood. The first time I went to when my father was dying of cancer, they told me they couldn’t take my blood because I said I was a little sniffly (allergies, if I recall. I wasn’t sick nor had I been snorting anything.) That was it for me. They wouldn’t let me help my dad, I never went back.

    • Hi DD,
      Sounds like those folks could have used a little lesson on “cot-side” manners. Truth is, there is a pretty big list of deferrals, but there is a better way than totally discouraging people, especially those in crises.
      With so few people in the pool, we should be doing all we can to encourage donation.

      • Their manners may have been crap, DD, but their advice was not – I once donated when I was getting over a cold (they asked “how are you feeling today?” and I said “fine” b/c my mom raised me not to complain) and later that day I fainted dead away on the Staten Island Ferry. I did once write a scolding email to the Blood Center b/c I’d gone to a crowded Bloodmobile where the staff told me to come back in an hour, and then snapped at me when I did b/c they were about to close up. Donor relations got right back to me with an effusive apology and assurances that they’d spoken to the staff in question, and those are the only 2 occasions anything remotely negative has happened when I donated blood. Last month thy gave me a nice red fleece scarf, and once I got a Gund teddy bear!
        Recently @ a blood drive on camplus, a nice young student volunteer asked me if this was the first time I’d donated. I laughed and watched his eyes go funny when I told him the first time I’d done so was in 1978!
        Anyway, I concur w/Rosie – give ‘em another chance – maybe you can help somebody else’s dad.

      • Bunny, you have been my blood hero for many moons! I still remember when you came to my temple’s Mitzvah Day drive, which is where I learned that hydration is the key to donor success. As the event organizer I spent most of the day running around (not eating/drinking like a normal person) so when it came time for me to give I couldn’t complete the donation — I was just too pooped to piddle out a pint.

    • Bunny, I always knew we were sisters under the skin, and now confirmed blood sisters. I hope we never need to make that call, but I’m here for you and yours.

      • Ya know — I think it’s the same scenario in my family, too. We are the most recessive of the lot, and I got your back.

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