TMoRP – Donating blood

I’m probably going to veer off from getting too political with these Month of Relentless Positivity posts. Not because I’m afraid of damaging my authorial brand or any of that shit [1] but mainly because at the moment I can’t manage the load of trying to find plausible silver linings.

Okay, silver linings aren't *that* hard to find

Okay, silver linings aren’t *that* hard to find

But thinking yesterday about taking positive action in the world reminded me of something that I like to give a plug to as often as possible – donating blood to the Australian Red Cross.

Listen, it’s easy, it doesn’t have to be more than an hour out of your month, and it saves lives. There are some finicky and restrictive conditions for eligibility – recent tattoos or jail visits, a few medical conditions, or a history of certain forms of sexual contact could all exclude a donor, as would any number of other things. (I know about four people who can’t donate because they were in the UK in the early nineties, when Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease was first showing up as a standard Trivial Pursuit answer).

All the more reason for those of us who happen to fit the profile to do our bit. A single donation can supply up to three patients in need, and there are always more people in need of blood than there are people to supply it. Accident victims, cancer patients, premature babies. You’ll never know who you helped. Only that you did.

And listen, it doesn’t hurt. Oh, it can sometimes sting for a minute and it might ache for a while afterwards, but unless I have an unusually high pain threshold [3] then it’s not a big deal. I suffer more from cutting my nails than from giving blood (I am way clumsy with nail scissors).

And it’s fascinating. You can watch as the blood runs down a tube into these big machines that spin and wobble and strain the yellow bits out of the red bits, and after a while a plastic bag swells up with blood and…

Look, if any of that makes you squeamish, then probably you can skip this.

This is a sphygmomanometer, which is a word I didn't even have to look up

This is a sphygmomanometer, which is a word I didn’t even have to look up

In Australia, the Red Cross also has a pretty solid incentive scheme in place to entice donors. There’s a free milkshake or cup of tea afterwards, and usually some kind of snack like a sausage roll or cheese and biscuits. Sometimes there’s a friand.

It’s pretty sweet.

Thin blood makes it taste even better

I’m a semi-regular donor – coming up on 80 donations and looking to live long enough to get to triple figures (though I know at least a couple of people who are well past that milestone). If you’ve got a question about it, I’ve probably been around the block enough times to answer it in the comments.

If you can’t think of anything else you can do to make the world a better place today, then try this. Somebody will be grateful, even if you never find out who they are.


[1] My “authorial brand” is mainly concerned with swearing angrily at people exercising bad risk analysis and making demonstrably stupid decisions, and then undermining any credibility I still have by writing goofy stories about plucky teenagers starting a werewolf grooming business or something.[2]

[2] I haven’t actually written that one. If you like it, it’s yours. Knock yourself out.

[3] I so don’t.

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2 Responses to TMoRP – Donating blood

  1. You now know 5 people who can’t donate due to UK residence in the 90’s. It’s a major bummer. I like milkshakes!
    Seriously though, 80 donations is legendary. Good on you for saving lives and for using the word sphygmomanometer in a sentence.

  2. Lexifab says:

    It is a bummer. They’re *good* milkshakes. (And during donations is absolutely the only time I ever have milkshakes).

    80 sounds like a lot, but plasma or platelet donations can happen more frequently than once a month, so the numbers go up a lot quicker. Mind you, it’s been a couple of months since I donated due to a bout of illness and then a long stretch of crazy obligations, so I’m overdue to get back into it. I’ve just started a jobs checklist for tomorrow that includes booking an appointment for my day off next week.

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