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Five Reasons You Should Seriously Consider Donating Blood

In an earlier post I talked about finally donating blood as an example of saying “yes” to myself after cancer.  That post was about how good it felt to act on my changing priorities.  This post is about the need to say “yes” to our community, because the only source of blood is a human donor.  And, like it or not, that’s means it’s up to each one of us.

I’ve spoken to cancer survivors who think they can’t donate blood.  According to the American Red Cross, eligibility depends on the type of cancer and treatment history.  Survivors of blood cancers are not eligible to donate.   For other types of cancer, you are eligible if you were successfully treated over 12 months ago and have experienced no recurrence in that time.  In-situ cancers that are completely removed do not require the 12 month waiting period.  Of course, you should talk to your doctor if you have any questions about your eligibility.

I just read in my local paper that blood donations are desperately low.  Collection typically stalls twice a year: during the winter holidays and during the summer.  I was struck by the memory of September 11th.  In the first days after the attacks, people ran to give blood, with the American Red Cross reporting more than a quarter of a million first time donors.  If we can answer the call then, surely we can do it now.  It only takes an understanding of why it is so important.

So, thanks to the American Red Cross for providing the following:

Reason #1:

Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood.  That means more than 38,000 blood donations are needed per day.  Currently, less than 38% of the population is eligible to give blood, with only 3 out of every 100 Americans actually donating.  It’s a very elite group, but they’re always looking to expand membership.

Reason #2:

There are four types of transfusable products that can be derived from a pint of whole blood: red cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate.  As each pint of donated whole blood is separated into two or three of these products, each donation can help save up to three lives. 

Reason #3:

Donating blood is a simple four-step process:  registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation and refreshments (cookies!)  The whole process takes no more than one hour and 15 minutes with the actual blood collection taking about 12 minutes.

Reason #4:

The two most common reasons people don’t give blood are, “I never thought about it” and “I don’t like needles.”   Well, we’re thinking about it right now!  And, let’s face it, as cancer survivors, haven’t we dealt with much worse than a needle prick.  Plus, blood donation is an opportunity to volunteer, rather than be drafted.  Wouldn’t it feel good to put out your arm for a cause and walk away knowing you’ve contributed to the good health of someone other than yourself?

Reason #5:

More than 1 million new people are diagnosed with cancer each year.  Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that, as cancer survivors, many of us are eligible to donate blood to the many cancer patients who sorely need it?  I give blood at Overlook Hospital as a way to give back for all I have received from its cancer center.  If you are interested in donating blood, you can reach out to your hospital, cancer center, or the American Red Cross

If you are eligible, please consider donating blood.  When I do it always gives me a really good feeling and I hope it does the same for you.  I’d love to hear about your blood donation experiences. 

Survival > Existence,

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Julie's picture

Hi Debbie,

Thank you for donating blood! I received over 130 units of blood and many platelet transfusions as part of my treatment for acute myelogenous leukemia. It is so incredible to me that strangers donate a part of themselves to help someone who will most likely never have the chance to thank them.

I gave blood and platelets prior to my diagnosis, and you are so feels wonderful to be able to give such an important gift. I recently starting having therapeutic phlebotomies because my iron is too high due to the transfusions. When I walked into the clinic, I got that I had experienced what it felt like to be on the receiving end of transfusions, the clinic took on a greater meaning to me.

Thank you for giving and for encouraging others. I always looked forward to my transfusions because they gave me energy, got rid of my anemia headaches and made the whole process of fighting cancer seem more doable.

Take care,

Debbie's picture


Thank you so much for your beautiful comment.  It really is wonderful to hear from someone who has benefitted from donated blood.  I didn't know until I did the research for this post that cancer patients were so in need of donated blood.  When I found out, it really was a full circle moment for me and made giving back in this special and unique way that much more gratifying.  I'll keep donating, and I'll be thinking of you.

Survival > Existence,


sara's picture

I am extremely glad to go through the encouraging and inspiring post. I have never donated blood before. I think, many people, like me, are not interested to donate because of ignorance and ill-informed. Rather it gives a sense of self satisfaction in donating blood and be party of the humanity. 

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