If you’re a parent, then you already know there is nothing like giving the gift of life. As amazing as it feels to watch your children grow, it’s also an amazing feeling to save a life, even if it belongs to a total stranger.
You may have already declared your New Year’s resolution to lose weight, stop swearing, or quit smoking, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also become a regular blood donor.
There are six New York Blood Center facilities at which you can donate on Long Island – Lake Success, Rockville Centre, Bohemia, Melville, Port Jefferson Station and Riverhead. You can also visit their website to find local blood drives.
Becoming a regular donor was my resolution last year and when I made my first visit to the Melville center, I was shocked when they told me I hadn’t donated in 9 years. A whole blood donation itself averages only 11 minutes! As you can imagine, I had some catching up to do.
Now determined to be a consistent contributor, I returned on the required minimum of 56 days later. Except this time when I left, I made an appointment to become a platelet donor. Platelets are essential to normal blood clotting and their collection takes close to 90 minutes. They are desperately needed by accident victims, patients with blood disorders, bone marrow transplant patients, and cancer patients. How could I say no to that?
The first time I was a little nervous about having blood drawn for such a long period of time, but with the help of the phlebotomist, I was kept comfortable, and actually ENJOYED the time alone in the bed. How good does it sound to you to put the stress of work on hold, not hear the battle cries of your kids (whom I love anyway) and just relax watching TV or listening to your iPod? Oh, and on top of that you are saving people’s lives! That first experience would have been perfect had I not over-hydrated myself to the point that upon completion I had to dash off to the restroom — a mistake I have not made twice.
Even though I donate out of the goodness of my heart (pun intended), I was impressed that the New York Blood Center has a Donor Advantage Program where you earn points for donations that can be redeemed for gifts or gift cards with vendors like Target, Home Depot and others.
I am aware that needles aren’t for everyone and that there are people who may not qualify to donate blood. However, you can still organize a blood drive at your school, office, or house of worship or just volunteer locally to assist with welcoming donors, help with registration, serve refreshments or assist their staff. You can contact Natalie Barnofsky at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
I thank God every day for the things I already have in my life, but I wanted to be the answer to someone else’s prayers as well. I accomplish this as a regular blood and platelet donor and I have faith that you can too.
If you’ve had positive experiences donating blood, or have been on the receiving end of a donation, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below!