Giving blood is one of my favorite ways to give back and pay it forward. It is selfless, relatively easy and can literally save lives. I absolutely think that everyone who can donate blood should try it – and if you ever want to go with me, I’ll be glad to take you!
I don’t think I ever would have donated blood on my own; like most people, I was always a bit squeamish about needles and medical things. A coworker invited me to go with her many years ago, so I accepted. She was a teeny little thing and I remember thinking “gosh, if she can do it, I certainly can.” And it was a great experience, so I kept giving a few times each year. I’m up to three gallons!
Giving blood seriously rocks, How else can you lie down and rest for 45 minutes while at the same time saving lives, flexing your bravery muscles and giving your future self the gift of being less fearful of needles, shots and medical procedures? It’s a can’t lose proposition.
That said, I have issues with several American Red Cross Blood Services practices. For one thing, healthy gay and bi men in committed, monogamous relationships are still not able to donate blood and that is ridiculous. This is 2020; get it together, FDA and ARC. Think of all the life-saving blood you are turning your backs on! If you really care, you’ll work hard to change this outdated, wrong-headed guideline.
Second, I will admit that in the years I’ve been a donor, I’ve had one or two negative experiences donating blood. Annoying as that is, what makes it far worse is that when I called the ARC to complain or ask questions, I was told someone would get back to me and both times I never heard from them. This does not make me feel valued as the supposedly important repeat-donor that I am.
Then there’s the incessant, spam marketer-level hounding to make my next donation appointment. I get it, you need blood and it saves lives – but that shouldn’t mean you should bombard me with emails, calls and texts at the frequency that you do! How about ratcheting that down to one reach-out a month, please. It can really turn donors off.
Then there’s the fact that when I try to make an appointment online, there are very limited spots available for the type of donation I want to give (whole blood). Or that when I made an appointment recently, it was later cancelled by ARC with little to no explanation. If my blood is so vital and you need me to donate so badly, then surely you can make it convenient for me?!
Lastly, I’m not a fan of the upselling the Red Cross folks do. Like I said, I want to give whole blood – it’s what I feel comfortable donating. Yet they continually bug me to switch up and donate double reds (which I’ve done a few times, but I don’t like the way it makes me feel) or plasma (which I’ve never done because of the time commitment and if I’m being honest, I’m just a little creeped out by it). Can you just let your girl keep giving whole blood and feel good about that, without any added guilt?
So, there you have it. It’s truly not my intention to bash the Red Cross Blood Services – I know they play an important role in getting the red stuff to patients who desperately need it. I love that they communicated to me that I have a special, baby-saving blood type (CMV-negative) making my donations especially important for neonates. You’d better believe this is a huge part of what keeps me donating, despite my gripes above!
How about you, are you a blood donor or do you have stories to share? I’d love to hear in the comments below or over on Facebook.