In a single hour, you could watch television, go to Sykes for dinner, or chat with friends on Facebook. However, in that same single hour, you could save someone’s life. It could be your mother, the person who sits next to you in math class, or someone you have never met. But at least they would get to watch television again or go to Sykes for dinner. Of the many United States citizens that are eligible to donate blood, only 5 percent do. Worse, of that 5 percent, not all are regular donors. It is estimated, according to The Center for Biologics and Research, that 78 percent of all citizens will need blood at some point. Perhaps even more astonishing is the statistic that there is a 95 percent chance that you or someone you know will need blood. What if there wasn’t any blood for you? Of course this seems like just a bunch of statistics, but the fact is most people do not realize how crucial it is for those that are eligible to donate blood. We tend to think that there will always be blood when we need it, that this precious liquid is of unlimited supply. That’s not true. Right now, there is a huge shortage. Believe it or not, a majority of hospitals only have enough blood supply on their shelves to last one day. And to make this even clearer, every two seconds someone in America is in need of blood, but we might not have the blood to suffice their needs. There are so many times when I hear excuses as to why people have not donated blood. The most common excuses are that they are afraid to donate, that their blood type is rare, that they do not have time, or that they have already donated this year. These are just excuses; none of these are true or acceptable. Ironically enough, some of the people who claim that they are afraid to donate have tattoos. And yet, it is a lot less painful to donate than it is to get inked.
In fact, there really isn’t much pain associated with donating. There is a slight pinch at first and that is it. The remaining seven to ten minutes consist of no pain at all. A slight pinch is a small sacrifice to make to save the life of someone who may be dying. Those who claim that they do not need to donate because they have a rare blood type are actually those that need to donate most. If one’s blood type is rare, that means that there are fewer donors and a lesser supply on hand, which makes it much more critical for donations to be made.
The excuse that one does not have time is very frustrating. People always seem to have time for a television show or to talk to their best friend for an hour on the phone, but yet they claim they do not have time to save the lives of others. Perhaps the most common and worst excuse that they have already donated once before. For the 10-12 pints we each have in our body on average, our blood reproduces rapidly-so rapidly that we can donate every 56 days. Many of those 5 percent that do donate are not donating five times each year like they could be. Blood has a very short shelf life and therefore donations are needed on a regular basis. It’s not like we don’t have blood to spare.
Another issue we have in the United States is that people do not think to donate until a time of crisis. By crisis I mean 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina. The problem with this is that if people are not donating regularly there will not be enough blood in stock when a disaster occurs, no matter how many donations are made at time of crisis or how many volunteers answer the call. It takes at least two days to test blood for cleanliness, so to donate the day of a disaster alone is not as helpful as donating regularly; this helps to make sure there will be blood available when the disaster occurs. Although we may be able to save a large number of those injured in a crisis, we may not be able to save those that are waiting in hospitals around the country since so many find themselves suddenly in need.
If people donated more frequently, this would not be as great of a problem. It is crucial to donate not only during such openly demanding times, but throughout the entire year. There are no excuses for not helping to save the lives of others. If you are 17 or older, over 110 pounds, and of good health, donate to the American Red Cross. Each time you donate, you can save three lives. Those three lives could in fact be your mother, the person who sits next to you in math class, or someone you have never met. To donate, contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-GIVELIFE or at www.givelife.org.
Jillian Barton is a first-year student. She can be reached at JB669457@wcupa.edu.