Getting back in the donation groove

As I sat in the basement of St. Francis Catholic Church Tuesday afternoon, I watched as two women were told they couldn’t donate blood during the LifeServe blood drive.

It’s not an unusual situation – I was even one heartbeat per minute away from being rejected that afternoon. I told the LifeServe employee doing my health screening that my heart rate was probably just high because donating blood makes me nervous. No matter, she told me, if a potential donor’s heart rate is too high, they’re rejected for the day.

For those of us in small towns, that likely means waiting another two months before we get a chance to donate again, because most of us aren’t going to drive to another town during a work day to spend an hour or more going through screenings and on a cot giving blood.

According to LifeServe, only about 38 percent of Americans are eligible to donate – a figure I’m guessing doesn’t factor in eligible donors who show up for a given blood drive and find out their iron is too low or too high, or find themselves rejected for other temporary reasons. LifeServe, on its website, said just 10 percent of Americans donate regularly. From 1999 to 2006, I was one of those regular donors, picking up the habit while I was in college and continuing to do so as often as I had the flexibility in my work schedule to duck out for an appointment. And then, for a decade, I didn’t. Last fall, when South Central Calhoun High School held its annual blood drive, I realized it was time for me to start again. 

Read more in the March 8 edition.