I am counting down to my 67th Birthday on Sunday October 25th. As a general rule, I’ve never been prone to make a big deal about birthdays, but for this year, I’ve decided I’d like to be more public and ask family and friends for a gift.
Don’t panic. I don’t need anything material from you unless you’ve got a spare BMW, Jaguar, or Mercedes. I’d like you do something I no longer am allowed to do.
The attacks of 9/11 motivated me to start making regular blood donations. After awhile I switched from whole blood to plasma which takes longer but can be done more frequently.
Each and every donation was a feel-good moment and only cost me some of my time. The folks at Canadian Blood Services (CBS) are wonderful and treat everyone coming through the door as a VIP.
I understand that at least eight people benefit from every donation and in all likelihood, many of my donations saved lives. CBS describes itself as Canada’s Lifeline. Last January, at the beginning of my cancer treatment, to my surprise, I needed a blood transfusion due to a low hemoglobin count. My blog post titled What Goes Around Comes Around describes that moment and reminded me of how fortunate we are to have such outstanding medical care in Canada.
A couple weeks ago, my good friend Phillip, who was also my Best Man 42 years ago, made his first blood donation as a sign of support for me. I was so proud of him for that action. No normal person gets excited to have a needle stuck in their arm but it is really just a short pinch and uncomfortable few seconds.
After I changed from whole blood to plasma, I was surprised with how many people donate weekly. I gave weekly for a long time but struggled with my hemoglobin count so switched to bi-weekly. A good friend from my cycling community, Malcolm who lives in Australia, like me is a plasma regular. It is so nice to have that common connection.
I always thought an upside of making regular donations is that you get a quick health check at the clinic. They take vitals and a blood drop to ensure your iron shows that you’re easily able to regenerate your donation. As well, your blood is tested and you will be confidentially notified if something irregular surfaces that you should investigate. With that said, the tests at CBS are NOT a replacement for a regular checkup with your own physician.
Plasma donators are required to have an annual in-house medical at CBS. A couple of years ago that check-up revealed I had an irregular ventricular heart beat. It turns out that’s pretty normal at my age and not a cause for concern. My point is that you’ll see a health care professional more frequently than might otherwise be the case. You’ve got to see that as a good benefit.
My cancer prevents me donating ever again. I hope you will make a donation in my place and consider becoming a regular. I don’t know what the future holds for me and should the aggressive chemotherapy I’ve just started prove ineffective, this might be the last birthday I celebrate. It will be that much more memorable if you gift me with a donation. I realize that for medical reasons some people cannot donate. It that applies to you, as an alternative, take up the torch to encourage your family and friends to donate in your place.
CBS, as you would expect, stores medical information about you to ensure it is safe for you to donate. Should your health condition change, CBS will not approve you to donate to avoid putting you at risk. One bit of data they keep is how many times you donate. The people I’ve met at the clinic compare counts with each other but not as braggarts, just curiosity. By comparison, my count of 343 donations pales to some of the people I’ve met. To reach these kinds of counts, people have to donate plasma or platelets which can be done as frequently as each week. In Canada, men can donate whole blood every 56 days and women can donate every 84 days. The difference is that with plasma or platelets, your red blood cells are returned to your system in the process. With whole blood, the body needs more time to top you up.
If my birthday gift request triggers you donate, let other people who read my ramblings know by posting a comment on this post. Also please share my ask with your family and friends. As generous as we are in Canada, we are not self-sufficient and still purchase blood products from other countries.
As always I thank you for being a support pillar. It serves to keep my upbeat and positive and combined with God at my side holding my hand, all is good.
Peace, Love and Laughter