If you could help save somebody's life, would you? Consider a few facts about blood donation, taken straight from the official American Red Cross blood donation website, www.redcrossblood.org:
* More than 44,000 blood donations are needed every day.
* A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the United States (as of 2006).
* The Red Cross provides blood for patients in nearly 3,000 hospitals across the nation.
* More than 1 million new people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
Blood can't be manufactured -- it has to come from generous donors. You can become one of them and join in this amazing work! A lot of people are afraid to donate blood because of misconceptions; in years past, I thought donating would be scary as well. But when I tried it recently, during a donation drive at my high school, I found the experience was quite the opposite.
Giving blood was a very rewarding experience and the Red Cross volunteers who worked there were so sweet and calmed any worries that I had. They answered questions, guided me through the process and made sure that I was as comfortable and relaxed as possible.
Where do you find a place to donate? Blood drives are often held at schools, churches, workplaces and other locations. You can also always donate at centers such as the American Red Cross donation center in Layton, or you can look on the website to find blood drives scheduled near you.
If you decide to try donating blood, doing it with a friend may be a good idea, especially if it is your first time. Donating with a friend can help relieve pressure and help you feel more confident.
At my high school donation drive, I first read through a small information booklet and then turned in my paperwork. The staff member then walked me over to a small cubicle where a nice doctor asked me a few quick questions. They checked my pulse and a few other things before I took a quick survey.
When it was my turn to donate, they sat me down in a chair that could tip back so I could be in a relaxing position. They put some iodine on my arm to keep it clean and sanitary, and got all ready for the procedure.
Next it was time for the needle. This is one reason a lot of people say they won't donate -- they don't like needles. But I promise you it isn't too bad! Trust me, I used to be afraid of needles, too; as a kid, I used to think they were the worst. But as I grew older I decided to face my fears and stop letting them control me, and I realized that needles and blood donation aren't too scary. You just have remember everything will be OK.
The staff members were perfectly trained to be completely safe, and as they inserted the needle they reassured me that it would be all right. It may sting a little bit when they first put the needle in; it isn't terrible, but it can be a little bit uncomfortable for the first few moments. But the rest of the donation will be smooth sailing -- and you can smile and think to yourself, "I did it!"
I sat totally comfortable and calm in my chair through the donation process. The nurse made sure that everything was fine, and I felt completely safe. In case you are worried, I assure you that the bag and the needle were covered from my point of view. I didn't have to see anything so there's nothing to be scared of there.
After the donation was done, the staff put everything away and brought me some snacks! I had some delicious ice-cold apple juice and some cookie treats. Who wouldn't want that? Totally unlimited refreshments!
I got to sit and rest and talk to some of the other people who had donated.
Blood donation is a fantastic way to make a difference.
What would you do if you or someone you loved got in a car accident or had another type of severe injury and needed blood? I know I've said it before but it's so important I want to say it once more: Blood donation isn't so scary after all, and it is a great feeling to help other people.
Nathan Beeston is a junior at Syracuse High School. He loves swim team, writing, and life-guarding, and is always up for making new friends. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.