It Is Better to Give Than to Receive

When I was a youngster (in my twenties), I gave blood once, at work, during a blood drive.  Everything was perfectly fine.  In fact, I went out partying that evening without any ill effects.  Even the hangover the next day wasn’t that bad as I recall.  Of course not – I was YOUNG.

The next time I went to give blood, they refused me.  It seemed I had inherited my father’s heart murmur.  That particular heart murmur had kept him out of the service during WWII – he hated that and wished desperately he had been able to serve.

In researching my own heart murmur, I discovered that it was only a mild irregular heartbeat (after a multitude of tests) and so I had a special form signed so that the Red Cross would be absolved of all blame should I croak on the damn table while helping to save someone else’s life.  No use…they still wouldn’t take me.

Fast forward 30 years.  In all that time I never even tried to give blood.  I just assumed they would turn me away yet again.  So when I walked up to the table at a recent blood drive for my current employer, and the attendant took my vitals and said, “You can step behind the curtain” I almost fell off my chair!

Yay!!!  Woo-hoo!!! They want me!!!

So I sat right there and gave them my blood.  And then it took me a full 48 hours to recuperate.  WTF is THAT all about? 

It’s about age THAT’s what it is about.  The old bod just doesn’t bounce back the way it used to.  Sigh….

At least I was able to give blood – finally – after over 30 years!  I knew I’d give again, I just didn’t think it would be so soon.

Six weeks later I received a call from the community blood bank.  Seems my blood has been deemed “pure” because it doesn’t have some kind of virus most of the population has and that makes my blood suitable for babies and cancer patients AND I’m O+ so, in a pinch, my blood can be used for other blood types as well. 

They want me…they really want me.

Honestly…they had me a babies and cancer patients.

So I made an appointment and gathered my son and my other son’s girlfriend and we headed to the blood bank bright and early one Saturday morning.  All of us very excited to be doing our civic duty.

I signed my blood away, settled into the chair and began squeezing my fist.  Once the machine beeped I was ready to go.

Except I wasn’t.  All of a sudden I didn’t feel so good.  When I said, “I don’t feel so good,” the formerly lackadaisical technicians who didn’t appear to like their jobs very much snapped into action so fast you would have thought someone overhead was yelling. “SWARM SWARM SWARM!”.  The chair I was in dropped my head down and brought my feel up.  Cold compresses began appearing from nowhere and were placed all around my throat and just when I thought it had passed…I puked…three times.  It’s not easy to vomit in that position and so those same techs brought me a new t-shirt and were so sweet to me that I expect to be exchanging Christmas cards with them from now on.

My poor son looked like he had seen a ghost (mom NEVER gets sick) and so I kept saying, “I’m okay.  It’s fine.  I just didn’t eat enough before giving.”  While the whole time I’m thinking, “I’m never giving any of my motherfucking blood ever again.  Even Twilight Edward wouldn’t stand a chance getting to these veins now.  Nope…holding on to this bloody blood from now on…ain’t nobody draining me…”

But later…I knew.  I knew I’d give again.  Babies and cancer patients.  Babies and cancer patients.  Babies and cancer patients.

They just called.  I’m scheduled for this Saturday at 2:30 which is AFTER breakfast AND lunch.

Babies and cancer patients.  Babies and cancer patients. Babies and cancer patients.


7 thoughts on “It Is Better to Give Than to Receive

  1. I used to give blood regularly throughout college and early adulthood. They told me the same thing about babies, and I have the same blood type. They called me like clockwork when I was eligible to give again and I went. Then I started feeling lightheaded and queasy during and then physically drained afterwards. Selfishly, irrationally, I took this as a sign that I needed my blood. I guess it developed into a mild phobia and I stopped going as often and now I haven’t been in over a decade (!). I’m sure I could give semi-regularly and not suffer ill effects, though I am proud of the phase in my life when I gave regularly. How brave of you to try again after so many years and to make another appointment to try again. I will keep this in mind the next time I see a blood drive.

    1. If you want to venture back, I’d go directly to a Red Cross Donation Center or your local Community Blood Bank offices. If this had happened in the open Atrium where they hold our work blood drives, I’m not sure what my experience would have been like. But since the centers have the equipment and staff necessary if something goes sideways, I feel better about trying again there.

      Good luck!


  2. Good for you for continuing to try! I had a couple of awful recuperations from giving blood years ago and just can’t do it. At times I’ve actually been too thin — ugh, not good, but still that was my excuse. I feel really guilty because a very close friend of mine has a 4yo daughter with a condition called Diamond Blackfan Anemia and she has to have blood transfusions every 3-4 weeks. I try to give to them in other ways but blood donations are crucial for her survival. In high school, I had a person who could not get the needle in correctly. She stuck me about four times which resulted in major anxiety on my end and then an enormous “hematoma” on my arm, or in simpler terms a big-ass bruise. I had to play in a tennis tournament the next day and nearly passed out half way through. Then the vomiting started. It was rough. So again, good for you. And now I’m heading over to my friend’s site to donate money to now. I think you’ve inspired me to consider moving out of my comfort zone and trying to actually donate blood very soon. Check out this site if you have a minute.

    1. I will definitely check out the site! Thanks for including the link!

      My son’s girlfriend just doesn’t have any veins. Poor thing always gets stuck several times before they can find a vein. It’s not easy sometimes and it can definitely make you not want to go back.


  3. Love this story. I was gutted, deeply gutted when I received a letter thanking me for all the years I’ve donated blood but sorry they no longer wanted me. You see I had developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and understandably they couldn’t accept me as a donor anymore despite my most desirable o- status. I cried at that. I’m now over the CFS having found my miracle cure but it never occurred to me to go back and see if they want me. I am after all officially off the books. I use to get quite sick for a few days after donating for a period and had to take a break, went back and tried again making sure I had a full stomach before donating and that I rested and ate appropriately afterwards. Hope it all goes well for you again, make sure you drink lots to. Good on you, babies and cancer patients……………who can say no to that.

  4. CFS is nothing to sneeze at – it’s serious and so debilitating both physically and emotionally. During the height of my drinking career, I developed inflammation in my body that was so bad they thought I either had Rheumatoid Arthritis or CFS. After many trips to the Rheumatologist (who thought I was faking and drug seeking) and many months of worry my OB put me on massive doses of Vitamin D which helped dramatically.

    It wasn’t until after I quit drinking that I realized what I had been doing to my body. I just thank God I didn’t do any more damage.

    If you’re no longer on the records then I’d bet they’d consider you fresh meat now. Local blood banks are usually more forgiving than then Red Cross.

    Good luck whatever you decide.


So...what do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s