Raising Interest in the Blood Bank

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 22nd September 2009.

This past Tuesday evening, I was invited to attend the Red Cross Blood Service Milestone Ceremony. Held annually, the ceremony acknowledges blood donors who have reached 50 donations or a subsequent milestone, and somehow, I had managed to get to my half century over a period of 18 years. Held at the gorgeous Highland Heritage Estate, we were greeted by the smiling faces of the familiar Blood Bank staff. After a drink and some mingling, the event started with a thank you speech from a representative from the Red Cross head office, followed by a presentation on behalf of a mother whose sick son has benefitted from receiving donated blood. When you attend the blood bank, your actual donation just gets whisked off somewhere at the end, so it was really interesting to see the human side of the recipient end of the donation process. Another gentleman also spoke who travels from Lithgow to Orange every fortnight at his own cost, to donate plasma. I apologise for not remembering your name, but we all admired your dedication (over 600 donations and counting) to help other people. I was very pleased to be called up to receive my donor badge and will certainly wear it with pride, most likely for another 18 years or so before I get a new one. The ceremony got me thinking about why people submit themselves to a big needle in their arm every twelve weeks or so. As someone who hated needles, what made me willingly sit in the chair in the first place? Perhaps the attraction is the delicious milkshake that awaits all donors? A fine reward for sure, but for me, being lactose intolerant, a bad case of stomach ache is hardly a prize. The chocolates, juices and cheese and crackers are all nice but I can get them anytime at a shop. Lying back in the comfy chair is great too, but then again, similar chairs can be found at the dentist and that is not fun at all. Maybe people like to participate in the regular challenges that are made between different organisations to make the most donations? I believe that I went to the blood bank for the first time all those years ago (I even needed my mum’s signature being sixteen) because I would like to think that if I needed blood urgently someone would do the same for me. And what keeps hundreds of others and myself going back? I think it is the warm, welcoming atmosphere that is created by the dedicated staff and volunteers. From the moment you walk through the door, you are made to feel important and special. Do yourself (and someone else) a favour and give blood today.

Peter Young is type O positive and no longer afraid of needles.

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Published in: on December 16, 2009 at 10:14  Leave a Comment  
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