After all those horror movies, I’ll talk about something more relaxing… giving blood.
What? That’s not relaxing?
My college had a blood drive that lasted several days this past week, and as I often do, I gave an armful. I admit it’s not the most pleasant experience, but it’s one I always look forward to, and not just because of the Oreos. Or pizza, if it’s a Red Cross sponsored drive. Anyway, the point I was coming to is that since I was about fourteen or fifteen, I started counting down the years until I was old enough to donate; my high school only allowed seniors to get stuck, so I went to my first blood drive when I was seventeen.
The whole reason was a book I bought at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History– Five Quarts: A Personal and Natural History of Blood by Bill Hayes. Part memoir, part creative science-writing, I was utterly engrossed, and eager to join the roughly third of eligible Americans who actually donate blood. Unfortunately, I had to wait.
In the meantime, I tried to spread interest in the book by doing my 11th grade book project about it. Talk about fail. Once my classmates grasped that my book was by a gay author, they booed my presentation. The teacher either went deaf or didn’t care. However, that whole ugly incident brings up a problem limiting the number of potential blood donors– homophobia. Men higher up on the Kinsey scale (gay, bisexual, etc) are still prevented from giving blood, based on outdated science and just plain old meanness.
The need for blood is constant, and hospitals never have enough. Part of that is their own fault, but for the part that isn’t, Americans (I say Americans because I don’t know any other country’s stats), really need to step it up. It’s not that difficult: a little extra protein and water they day before, a little pain the day of (it really doesn’t hurt much), and then sugar afterward. Plus, you could be saving up to three lives. Everyone wins.