Today, I gave blood for the first time in over two years.
Starting at age 17, I started giving blood regularly. You can give blood once ever six weeks and you can bet that every six weeks I was eagerly sitting at the blood bank. I have always enjoyed donating to charity, but never had a lot of extra money to do so with, so I gave blood. It was my way of giving back. It made me feel good, but the reality of what I was doing never truly sank in with me.
Then in December of 2008 I found out that I was pregnant with Ian, and giving blood stopped. It bummed me out, but no big thing. However, I was really excited that I would be able to give again once I gave birth. No such luck. Many of you have read my birth story and know that it was a very long, hard, painful birth, followed by a large amount of blood loss and two full stitch kits. Two days after I gave birth, I took a turn for the worse. Suddenly I was very ill, and the room felt uneven. I couldn't hold my eyes open, and I couldn't put sentences together correctly without thinking long and hard. I knew something was wrong. I called in my wonderful post-patrum nurse and told her what was going on. She decided to check my iron levels once more, even though my numbers had already gone back up, and generally once they go after birth up they stay up. Sure enough, they were dangerously low. I had to have an emergency blood transfusion which lasted through the whole night, and I received two full pints of blood. The doctors said that had I waited a couple of more hours that I could have had numerous very serious complications, even as severe as death if left untreated.
So, a blood transfusion saved my life.
At that moment, the importance of giving blood really sank in with me. Suddenly it seemed so much more important. I used to give blood because it made me feel good about myself because I was donating. Now, I give blood because it saves lives; mine included. And I am proud to say that I officially joined the one gallon club today. I have given one full gallon of blood in my lifetime. That just boggles my mind. Excuse my language, but that just seems like a shit-ton of blood. So, after my 1 year wait period since my transfusion, I gave blood.
I urge you to give blood. Did you know that if just 1% more of the population gave blood regularly that we would fill our need for blood products for the foreseeable future? You can make a big different, please give it a try.