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Blood donation is a form of ‘service before self’

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
"The need is constant, the gratification is instant."

This is the Red Cross' motto for giving blood.

I give blood often and encourage others to do every chance I can.

According to the Red Cross, an average of 44,000 blood donations are needed daily because of surgery, trauma, complications during child birth, and blood cancer, such as leukemia.

There are eight different blood types. Some blood types, including O negative, which is the universal blood donor type, are highly needed, but all blood types are important.

My blood type is B positive, which means my blood can be given to two blood types. I started giving blood a few days after my 16th birthday, and I recently just gave my 20th pint to Red Cross which equates to 2.5 gallons. One pint that is donated can help save the lives of three people, which means I have potentially helped save 60 lives. These people that my blood has gone to could be a family member, a spouse or a friend of mine. Chances are that the people receiving the blood I gave were complete strangers, but those strangers are someone else's loved one. Those lives were saved just from giving up a few hours of my life to sit back in a chair and relax.

Healthy individuals are able to give every 56 days and that's what I try to do.

There's more than one benefit to giving blood. According to a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that those aged 43 to 61 had fewer heart attacks and strokes when they donated blood every six months.

After donating blood, the body replaces all of the blood volume within 48 hours, and all the red blood cells within four to eight weeks. This process helps bodies create new and fresh blood.

I often hear excuses for not giving blood, such as people don't have any time. The time it takes to give blood usually takes about an hour, and if I make an appointment it's even less than that.

With the Red Cross and Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center making monthly visits to Scott, giving blood is a goal that is easily attainable. There are also blood donation centers located all around the local area that are open past most people's work days and weekends.

Another excuse I hear is, "I don't like needles." The technicians try to be as quick and gentle as possible when inserting the needle. I think the needle feels like a little pinch in my arm, which only lasts for a few seconds. The actual time the needle is in my arm is about 4 to 8 minutes, depending on how much water I drank previously that day.

After the donation I even get some cookies and juice, but the reason I like to give so much is the satisfaction of knowing I helped someone who I will likely never meet.

As an Airman one of our core values is Service Before Self. I think the small sacrifice of giving blood is showing a form of service to the people who need it most.