- Someone needs blood every two seconds
- One in seven people entering a hospital need a transfusion
- One pint can save up to three lives
- One out of three people will need a blood transfusion in their lifetime
- 4.8 million Americans per year would die if they didn’t receive a transfusion
The first time I donated blood, I was a second-semester high school senior excited about the prospect of missing two class periods. While I didn’t yet grasp the importance of my donation in someone else’s life, it was a positive experience and much less painful than I expected.
A few months later, the Red Cross called and asked me to donate again. I learned that I have Type O negative blood, making me a universal donor. My blood is the kind that doctors use with premature newborns or in emergencies when they don’t have time to check a patient’s blood type, and it’s always in short supply.
Over the following years, I developed the habit of donating whenever it occurred to me and I was eligible. I have no idea how many times I’ve donated, but I do know that each time I left with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, but not always with a recognition of the broader significance of my donation for its recipient. When I went long periods without donating blood, I felt the same shadow of guilt that throwing paper in the trash or taking an overly long shower induces. It became a vague task that made up my “socially responsible young adult” checklist, and neglecting it seemed wasteful or self-indulgent.
But researching the experience of blood transfusion recipients and interviewing my supervisor about her own health emergency reminded me of the incredible significance of that blood for someone who needs it immediately. Donating to the Red Cross or a local blood bank is a simple, relatively painless act of compassion that requires a commitment of only around an hour and a half every two months, but it could save up to three lives per visit. While sipping on my juice box and enjoying free crackers after my next appointment, I’ll take a moment to appreciate the people I love and the other potential donors who could one day save their lives.
A Recipient’s Story
I spoke to YouCaring’s Chief Marketing Officer Aimen Barma, whose emergency blood transfusion saved her life. She recalled an experience three years ago when she became very sick unexpectedly and was immediately taken to the emergency room. Aimen later learned that the blood transfusion she received was a factor in saving her life.
“That donation was a priceless gift,” she said. “No one in my family has my blood type, so if that blood didn’t exist, I don’t know what would’ve happened.”
While donating blood is always optional for the one who gives, she pointed out that for the recipient, there’s nothing optional about a necessary transfusion.
“It couldn’t wait. I needed it and needed it then,” she said. “Something that might seem small or simple for one person can be incredibly meaningful on the other side.”
Donating blood embodies the notion of “seeds of compassion” in that it comprises a small act that has the power to grow into something greater and more powerful over time.
YouCaring Campaign Connections
Most surgical patients require a transfusion to replace the blood that was lost during an operation, so the vast majority of YouCaring campaigns filed under “Medical Expenses” will feature someone who has received or will receive donated blood.
One inspiring campaign spotlights Ashley Bryce, a woman who suffers from sickle cell anemia, a painful hereditary blood disorder that causes red blood cells to take on an abnormal crescent shape that limits their ability to carry oxygen throughout the body. The disease, which affects between 90,000 and 100,000 in the U.S., can require blood transfusions as often as once a month. Ashley’s campaign raised money for a bone marrow transplant from her brother Blair, and the treatment will hopefully cure Ashley of the disease completely and free her from “sickle cell crisis,” or intense and unexpected onslaughts of pain in the bone, chest, abdomen or joint.
If you were inspired by her brother Blair and would like to register your own bone marrow for a potential match, visit https://bethematch.org.
One of YouCaring’s most successful campaigns raised $835,918 for Matthew Schreindorfer, a 25-year-old civil engineer from Montreal who was diagnosed with a rapidly progressive form of leukemia, a cancer that affects the body’s production of white blood cells. Leukemia patients often require blood donations due to the cancer crowding out normal blood-making cells, leading to low blood counts, according to the American Cancer Society. After Matthew underwent aggressive chemotherapy and a clinical trial treatment, all of which failed to bring him into remission, he turned to an experimental clinical trial in New York that was set to cost as much as $800,000. His wife Katia started a viral YouCaring campaign, raising close to $500,000 in the first two weeks it was posted, and despite harrowing months of treatment, Matthew reached full remission in April. He has just received a bone marrow transplant and was recently profiled in a CBS Montreal article.
We encourage you to donate blood to any of the important causes above. Or start a free online medical fundraiser for someone you know who is ill and in need of blood transfusions. Above all, always consider donating blood; saving a life is certainly one of the most compassionate acts of all!