I started giving blood as soon as I was old enough. In my teens, I even cheated a few times and lied about my weight so I could donate a pint. I was a regular donor from my senior year of high school until about a month after 9-11. I remember it was October of that year because the Red Cross had been set to institute some new rules that would disqualify me, but delayed their implementation because blood supplies were low and urgent following the terror attacks on our nation.
The new rule excluded eligibility for me and thousands of people like me who had lived in Europe between 1980 and 2001. Apparently there was no test for Mad Cow Disease antibodies and science didn’t know enough about it for blood donations to be safe. Along with thousands of my fellow veterans and travelers, I could no longer make regular trips to blood drives.
In the past year, those rules have eased. Now they just apply to cumulative time spent in England, France and a couple other locations in Europe. YAY! I could once again donate my life-giving red blood. I signed up for a blood drive and rolled up my sleeve.
Yesterday I continued my return to donating at a blood drive in our community. I made an appointment online, dutifully filled out the questionnaire in advance and arrived at the center. After a brief screening, I slid onto the semi-reclined chair, extended my arm and marveled at the view.
A quick stick and blood flowed, filling the bag on the fancy scale.
I know a lot of people who are squeamish about needles and blood. They shy away from anything medical. For me, giving blood fills me with joy. It’s such an easy thing to do and literally saves lives. I’m grateful they eased the rules.
There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. If you’re able and willing, you too can help improve someone’s health along their journey.
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