As a teenager, the idea of giving blood frightened me. Perhaps, it was the needle. Perhaps, it was a few horror stories friends shared with me. Whatever it was, I never, ever considered donating blood.
After Jaycee was born, my mind changed. Like many other people, I became motivated for personal reasons. When Jaycee was just 3 months old, she had her first open heart surgery. After the surgery, she needed a blood transfusion.
Sometime after this, I decided I would try to donate blood at a local drive. I was nervous. I was afraid I would pass out in front of everyone. My mind came up with any excuse not to do it. But, ultimately my need to "pay back" the donation that my daughter received trumped my fears.
I walked in to the church hosting the blood drive. I went through the initial health screenings. I flinched when my finger was poked for the iron check. I answered a large amount of personal questions. Before long, I found myself in the chair, reclined back ready to begin. During the blood donation, I felt slightly nauseous, but it seemed to go by quickly. Then I was led to a table where I received juice and a cookie. Yum! I felt tired afterwards and slightly lightheaded. But, I survived my first donation.
After that first time, I realized that I could easily do it again. So, I did a few more times. Each time, I became more at ease with the donation process.
Caring for two small children limited my ability to donate for a few years. There was a time when Jaycee's medical conditions required all my spare time and energy, so I did not feel I could donate and keep up my responsibilities.
Last year, I started donating blood again. After all, I'm healthy and able to do it. The American Red Cross estimates that 38% of people in the United States are eligible to donate blood but less than 10% do so. One blood donation can save the lives of up to 3 people. The need is real.
Every time I donate, I think of my sweet baby in the hospital who received blood years ago. Fortunately, she never needed blood again. But, I know that there are other children and adults benefiting from blood donation everyday.
To learn more about blood donation, visit the American Red Cross website.