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Blood Matters

Hurricane, tornado, and wildfire season is upon us yet again. While there are many ways to aid others during this time, I’d like to focus on just one. 

Give blood.

I know, I know “We’re lesbians, we can’t.” Not so true anymore. I just checked the Red Cross Eligibility Guidelines and found that they have narrowed the risk pool considerably. Such that lesbians who have not had sexual contact with gay men or Hepatitis A/B carriers, are probably good to donate.

Here in California, many people make autologous donations prior to scheduled surgery. While this is a nice gesture that may reassure them, it doesn’t put an overall dent in the need for blood. It’s the unscheduled needs that are suffering, currently.

Imagine having that once-in-a-lifetime car accident, and being put on hold while your body starts the mending process. Bodies care not for the schedule of the surgeon. A wait of a week for blood can make some serious changes in what the surgeon has to work with.

We also can’t just let someone bleed out because the hospital’s out of the red stuff. Hospital personnel sometimes are pressed into service, but they should be able to have their full attention on their job, not their need for some cookies and juice after a draining.

I know it sounds so “Lion’s Club/Moose Lodge” but blood drives are necessary, and they’re not working very well. The U.S. is running on a day-to-day supply of blood, sometimes requiring LifeFlights just to deliver a bag or three of precious cells from the donation site, to where they are needed.

See, what happens when the blood supply is short is that patients waiting for procedures that require blood are asked to reschedule for the future. Hoping of course, that either the momentary snafu will ease or more people will donate.

Imagine finally making the agonizing choice to have your knee replaced, because you’ve decided the pain is just too much to bear anymore. Then imagine being told you’ll have to wait at least a month, if not longer. People react so poorly to “Well, you shoulda called last month if you want this to happen next week.” I wonder why.

I know, I know. The blood center staff asks a lot of impertinent questions, makes you wait and serves generic “sandwich cookies” instead of Oreos. But think about it: who do you know that’s had an emergency operation at least once in their lifetime?

Now imagine if they hadn’t gotten it.

Yes, you can donate money, time, or in-kind services, but the kindliest service of all is to simply grin and bear the needle in your arm.

Forget the “Gallon Club” or “Lifetime Donator” crap. Give one pint, just one. Then go up into the maternity ward and look at the future you’ve just made an investment in. Be it used for their grandparents, parents, teacher, soccer coach, or just the convenience store owner that sells them 6 licorice whips instead of five for a nickel, it’s their life you’re enriching.
We often ask what it is we can personally do to make the world a better place. The answer is flowing through our veins.
Editor’s note: To reinforce Badphairy’s point, whole blood cannot be frozen. It has a refrigerated shelf-life of slightly more than 30 days. Platelets are the component of blood that helps the clotting process. Essential in emergency surgery, they have a shelf life of only five days. (More blood facts)

Published 7-18-2005

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