What Are You Willing to Give?

I’m a bit of a softie and I like to help out where I can. I cry at the old Hallmark commercials, I stay far away from the local pound or I’d take every single one of those animals home with me, I bring a box of Kleenexes to any wedding I attend, and I also donate blood.

While most people wouldn’t think that donating a portion of my body is part of being a softie, I beg to differ. Every time I pass another accident on the highway and shed a tear, every time I hear of another child with a threatening form of cancer battling to the near end of his or her life, I feel better knowing that I can make that small difference in another person’s life by donating a small part of me.

I have been donating blood a total of seven years. It started with my first year of college in Medicine Hat when a blood donor clinic arrived at the school in the midst of finals and I had a moment to spare. I walked into a giant line-up of people patiently waiting their turn to give a piece of themselves so another may live. A short while later a small pinprick was the only lasting physical effect from my hour of well spent time. The mental effect will last me a lifetime. I also came out knowing that my very rare blood type was very much in need, as the Canadian Blood Services still calls me every eight weeks to ask if I will be at the next donation clinic.

That first donation sparked an interest to help out more and more. Even though throughout the years my donation totals have reached a mere ten, I still feel better knowing that my small discomfort of a needle and an hour of time given is well received by that mother that may not lose her child in its battle with a deadly disease.

Still, I wanted to help out more and that is what drove me to the Canadian Blood Services website. I wanted to find out about other ways to help, (i.e. plasma donation, platelet donation, etc) when I stumbled upon something I never knew before. There was a small link on the left hand side of the Blood Services main page called “Bone Marrow Registry”. It sparked my interest, so I clicked the link to see what else I could do.

That small link looped me in with 215,000 other Bone Marrow Registrants willing to be part of a group who at any moment could be contacted to donate Bone Marrow.

I’ve heard all the normal questions, even from my own husband; “Doesn’t that hurt really bad?” No, in fact the donation process is so smooth that the most you’ll feel is a bruising as if you’ve fallen. “Why would you donate Bone Marrow, isn’t that what relatives are for?” Normally yes, relatives are the first choice in Bone Marrow donation to someone in need. But there is a huge chance that there is no match to be found, so this registry provides other options for those who have none. I may never be chosen in my lifetime, but knowing that I could be is enough for me to sign up immediately.

It took all of 20 minutes to fill out the very important questionnaire. This is so important because it informs you not only of the procedures, but also the impact of the donation. It also gives you the chance to turn back if you aren’t comfortable at that point with going forward. I filled it out completely and mailed the form to the Bone Marrow Registry office in Calgary.

About a week later I received a call to schedule a blood sample (of course they needed it to find out all the logistics of my blood) at my local Health clinic and within a couple of days the initial procedure was done. Now my name is finally part of 215,000 other people waiting to see if they are chosen.

I was so excited to have found another venue to assist others that I wanted to share my experience with others. This is the era of the internet so I used it to my advantage. It was the most terrifying and ‘faux pas’ thing I have ever done. I didn’t want to guilt anyone into donating, that wasn’t my purpose at all. But the majority of people don’t even know about the registry, so my goal was to inform.

I composed a small email to inform my friends and family members of this great need. Yes, there are 215,000 registrants today, but out of those numbers only 800 were able to donate since the registry began in 1989. If I could just have another person even consider becoming part of the registry or to start donating blood, that’d be enough for me.

On this road of giving blood and being part of the registry, I believe it has changed me for the better. I am a better person, a more giving person, and more willing to be open to the unknown, all for the gift of life. My next appointment to donate blood is on January 11th in Okotoks, when’s yours? Blood, it’s in you to give.

For more information on donating blood in your area’s clinic or on the Unrelated Bone Marrow Registry, please check out the Canadian Blood Services website at http://www.bloodservices.ca/

Donor Experience. http://www.bloodservices.ca/CentreApps/Internet/UW_V502_MainEngine.nsf/web/42AA5BE250375B1185256AC400689176

Registry Background. http://www.bloodservices.ca/CentreApps/Internet/UW_V502_MainEngine.nsf/web/66C07EAB7AC53C5285256AC40073F7EC