Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Give the Gift of Life

I began writing this article in my head back in January when I was laid up with malaria--you'll soon see why.

My early twenties were spent either nursing or pregnant. For 7 straight years I was busy with my preschool children and babies, and giving blood was not something I felt I could do. As soon as my baby was two years old and fully weaned, I began making regular appointments at the local blood bank.

For all of my life up to that point I had been involved in fulltime missions work. Helping other people was in my blood (huh. no pun intended). When I had 6 children, 9 years old and below, I loved the fact that even though I was 'stuck at home' I could still help the community.
Not only that, but I had always lived a very healthy lifestyle--very little sugar, lots of vegetables, I never smoked or abused drugs or alcohol. My blood was so healthy I'm surprised it didn't sparkle in its little plastic pint-sized bag.

As part of the routine medical exam that comes with every donation, I was asked about international travel. I told them that I had lived in India and contracted malaria while there. Thankfully, enough time had passed so I was still able to donate.

Every 8 weeks I would be there at the center giving my gift of life. I felt so very virtuous.

Then we moved to Africa. I still planned to donate blood if I could. There aren't well set up donation sites in Zambia although blood drives are occasionally organized. But, only three months after moving to Zambia I contracted Hepatitis A. No more giving of blood for me. Even though Hep A is not communicable via blood they don't take any chances. Even if you have malaria there is a minimum 12 month waiting time before being able to donate blood again. That is why every time I get malaria I am reminded that I can't give that particular gift of life again. And it makes me sad.

When I began doing research for this article I discovered that January is National Blood Donor month. Obviously I didn't get it written back then when it would have been all relevant and appropriate but, really any month can be blood donor month.

Listening to the news a few days ago I heard that the blood banks are incredibly low on blood. Winter has been so cold that many people are canceling their regular appointments to come out and donate blood because the weather is making driving for 'unnecessary' errands difficult.

I'm used to hospitals and doctors not having what they need to do their jobs.--But not here in the U.S. The thought of someone dying needlessly in a first world country makes me extra sad.

If you can, please consider heading to your local blood bank and giving the gift of life. I no longer can, but perhaps you can. If so, click here to find a (U.S) donation site near you. For my international readers I'm sure you can do a google search to find a place near you. To find out if you are eligible to give blood click on this link.

If you do give blood, would you let me know? I'd love to hear about it.


  1. Great post. I'm counting down the days until I can donate again - need to be 6 months back from Cambodia which happens on Feb 11th. But I have strep now too so also need to get past that.

  2. I have never been able to donate blood because my blood is so much lower in iron, naturally, than average. Even when I'm on a high-iron diet, my blood doesn't carry enough iron to actually really help anyone... at least that's what they've told me. Bummer!


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