Norman Knight: Giving blood: A testimonial

Over time I have learned a rule of the Universe: one sure way to be happy and live successfully in this world is to put oneself second.

Now, I am not very good at putting others first. That is mostly because I am selfish and want it to be all about me. But I do make an effort every now and again. One way I figure I can literally give of myself is to donate blood. Earlier in the month, I was reminded of an opportunity to be of service.

See, once you donate your blood, the donation centers, like so many enterprises in our digital world, want to stay connected. They are eager to remind you that your waiting time between donations is over, and won’t you please make a new appointment?

So I did.

I made it for Friday because I wasn’t planning to run that day. It might be all in my head, but after giving blood, I feel a bit listless for a day or so. Last time we ran a day after I had donated, Becky pulled ahead of me even further than normal. Now I just plan on a couple of rest days. I am taking today off, as a matter of fact, because I just got home from the Versiti Blood Center.

I use Versiti because it is closer for me than a Red Cross donation center, and I am used to their routine. I was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. and within two minutes, I was sitting in a small room with phlebotomist Keri getting my blood pressure and temperature taken. She asked a few questions and then instructed me to answer more questions on a laptop. I was to flip a switch on the wall when I finished.

So I did.

I was asked which arm, left or right, I preferred they use (I didn’t have a preference), then I was lead to a big lounge chair where phlebotomist Dee wrapped a rubber tourniquet around my left arm, wiped the inside of it with an alcohol swab and after a few other procedures told me I could look away or not as she inserted the needle. (I looked, then I didn’t.)

May I ask you some questions?

Yes, of course.

Do most people have an arm preference?

Not really, but the veins in the dominant arm are usually easier to access.

How much does a pint of blood weigh?

About a pound. (Great. I am losing weight just sitting here.)

Are you having problems, like many businesses these days, of finding enough people to work?

Yes, a little but that might be because the hours can be long.

Phlebotomist Dee was working on another patient on her other side, so I tried not to take up too much of her time. After about six minutes, she said I was almost done. That seemed quicker than sometimes. Maybe my blood is flowing especially smooth today.

Soon she pinched off the tube, secured the bag containing my pound of blood then withdrew the needle from my arm. Finally, she thanked me for coming in and directed me to the kitchen area to have a seat after grabbing something to eat and drink.

And that was it. Less than an hour and just a short period of discomfort and now my pint was off to help up to three people.

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. That works out to 36,000 units of red blood cells every day. Only about 3% of age-eligible people donate blood yearly, so it is understandable why there is always a need for blood.

I hope it doesn’t sound like I am virtue-signaling when I say I give blood regularly. I see it more as a chance to give back a little of what good gifts I have been given. Life is the greatest gift, after all.