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Blood, Life, and Beer

As I mentioned in Actions Speak Louder Than Words, I gave blood this week. This isn’t the first time I’ve voluntarily let blood be taken out of my system. But this time, it mattered more. Here’s why.

Beer money.

When I was in college I sold my plasma for money. Well, specifically for beer money. If you have never given plasma or don't know the process, I’ll explain as much as I know. Which isn’t really much except they gave me $20 the first time and $12 for the next 2 times.

It goes like this; you sit with a needle in your arm for 2 hours. First, they take your blood and then you wait while your blood goes into the back room and they separate the plasma from the blood. When this process is done they put the blood back into your arm. Sounds fun, huh?

This particular plasma center wasn’t in the best area of town so it was kind of scary for an 18-year-old suburban girl. The building was run down and well, the whole experience just wasn’t very nice.

Oh, did I mention that sometimes veins exploded and blood spurted everywhere? Yep, but thankfully never mine. Once in awhile, the charming men around me would try and pick me up. Lovely.

One thing I can say is that in Milwaukee $20 bought a lot of beer, this was 20 years ago afterall. And Milwaukee was, and always will be, a city of beer. As an added bonus you didn't need much beer because you just gave your plasma. What can I say, I was 18.

Photo from Purpleslog via Flickr.

Things changed.

After those 3 times, I had to stop selling my plasma. Why? Well, I was scheduled to have major spinal surgery and I had to give blood for my own transfusions, in case I needed it. (I’ll tell you about my surgery sometime, honest.)

So, off I went to the American Red Cross in Milwaukee to give blood but it was in a much nicer area than the plasma center. And it was clean, and state-of-the-art, and they had Nutter Butters and Oreos.

“This is much better,” I thought. Except that I didn’t get paid, I was kind of bummed about that. I think I had to give 2 or 3 pints, I don’t remember, over a span of a few months.

The one thing I’ll always remember my doctor telling me is that my life expectancy without the surgery was 40. Now that I’m approaching that magic number it sits with me a bit heavier.

So what is my point?

The first time, I gave plasma for profit. For me.

The second time, I again gave blood for myself. It was important and may have saved my life, but it wasn’t very altruistic. It was still for me.

Saving lives.

On Monday, I gave blood for the Blood, Sweat and Gear campaign for Motor City Connect. And for the first time it didn’t benefit me in anyway. Apparently, I saved three lives. That’s a pretty cool feeling. What’s even cooler are the people who do it every 8 weeks, every chance they get. They save a lot of lives.

My brother asked me why I gave blood. I just had a simple answer, “because I could.” Now, will I give blood in 8 weeks time? Will I become one of the cool people who give blood every chance they get? I’m not sure, but I hope so.

Photo by Mary Thompson via Flickr.

Oh, and apparently I have teeny tiny veins. So, I‘ve got that going for me.

Do you give blood? If not, you should try it sometime. It’s a pretty neat feeling to save 3 lives in twenty minutes.

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Reader Comments (6)

I can't give blood for health reasons.

Does the same rules apply for plasma? Probably?

July 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJamie Favreau

I don't know for sure but I would assume that if you can't give blood you wouldn't be able to give plasma either.

My husband isn't able to give blood here in the States simply because he lived in England between 1980-1996. There is a slight chance that Mad Cow can live in on in humans for up to 20 years without showing any symptoms. So he's automatically eliminated.

July 29, 2009 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

I gave blood on Monday for the Blood, Sweat & Gear campaign. It just feels good to be of service sometimes!

July 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

OK, I have a deathly fear of needles, but you have inspired me to give blood for the first time. I will do it in August.

July 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMaureen Francis

Kudos to you for giving blood too. Yes, it felt great to be of service and do something good!

That's awesome! I promise you it doesn't hurt, just a tiny pinch. And you won't even see the needle. You just made my day!

July 30, 2009 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

From one who has needed nine, yes nine, blood transfusions to-date in order to live, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Keep up the good work and encourage others to give. Every pint helps!

January 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterScott

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