A 9-gallon blood donation pin.
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I Am A Blood Donor!

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I am a blood donor! I’ve been donating blood for many years. You may wonder why I do this.

My dad was a regular blood donor for almost his entire life. His blood type was O negative, which is the universal blood type. This meant anyone needing blood could use Dad’s.

Once he was diagnosed with heart disease in his later years, he was unable to donate anymore. Dad was very upset about this as he loved to help other people. He even called the American Red Cross and questioned why he could not donate anymore. It was explained to him that because of the medications he was on, his blood was not acceptable to others. The reason for this was because it could harm the person that receives the blood. My father had to accept this. He wasn’t happy, but had no choice. Aside from feeling great about myself, I donate on a regular basis. I love that I am continuing in Dad’s path. Dad was so proud of me!

It was truly Dad who got me started donating blood regularly. And, once I started, I couldn’t stop. I have such a good feeling helping others. The donation usually takes about one hour, but if a lot of people are donating at the same time, it could take a little longer. The Red Cross does schedule a specific appointment time for each donor.

Once I have donated, I must wait 56 days before I can donate again. The plasma from each blood donation is replaced in about 24 hours. However, the red cells need about four to six weeks for complete replacement. That’s why at least eight weeks are required between whole blood donations. I have never had any major problems while giving blood. But, one time, however, my iron level was too low and I was deferred from giving. I spoke to my doctor about this and he has me take two iron pills every day. My iron levels are always at the proper range or above.

Three different times in a row when I donated blood, someone fainted while they were giving blood, or right after they gave blood. I watched in awe as the Red Cross nurses got them to wake up. They patted their faces, shook them and pressed cold, wet paper towels to their foreheads, faces, arms and hands. Sometimes it took a long time for the person to wake up. That made me nervous. Thankfully, I never experienced this.

During the past few years, I’ve received letters from the Red Cross thanking me for my donation each time. And, they let me know where my blood went. The last time I gave, it was used at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.

Words cannot describe the elated feeling one has when giving blood. I am helping others, and it really feels great. Thanks, Dad. Because of you I am and continue to be a blood donor!

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Read more by Marlene Wolff Solomon.

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