Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Health Benefits of Blood Donation

I've had a few unsuccessful attempts at having blood taken from my body. The first? College. My Freshman year at BYU, donating plasma for money was all the rage. Need money for a date? Donate. Need a new outfit for a date? Donate. Need food? Donate. I thought I'd give it a try. But I didn't make it past the screening process due to the I'm-no-longer-living-under-my-parent's-roof-so-I'm-going-to-double-and-triple-pierce-my-ears syndrome.

A year or so later, I thought I'd donate blood the real way (without pay). The problem that time? My veins weren't very good. And I didn't weigh enough! Too bad that's not my problem now!

Every time since, when I've heard about a blood drive, I've sort of plugged my ears. No thanks...I'll pass on the queasiness I'll surely experience as the blood oozes out of my body. When the sign-up sheet's come around, I've had every excuse in the book. Pregnant. Sick. Bad veins. Husband working. Washing my hair.

Until last week when it wasn't just a sign-up sheet. It was a cute, old man walking around with a sign-up sheet. I can say "no" very easily to a piece of paper. But to a walking, breathing human asking for my blood? The 60-year-old man was no Edward, but I couldn't say no.

So last night I donated blood. I actually enjoyed watching the little bag fill up with the velvety-rich liquid. And forgetting about the fact that I was saving lives (yes, lives is plural, since each unit of blood can save as many as THREE lives), I was excited by's GOOD for you! Win, win at it's best.

How, you wonder, could losing blood be good for you? Well...let me first say, that this knowledge makes me VERY happy that my husband and father are very regular blood donors. Because guess what...blood donation may very well be associated with a decreased risk of heart attack in middle aged men. Supposedly, blood donation can reduce the overall levels of iron in the blood, which may protect against heart attacks!

Blood donation is like an oil change for your body! It's especially good for those with high levels of iron in their blood. Men tend to have iron stores in their blood (because they don't have a menstrual cycle...boy, they're really missing out...). Blood donation can help to reduce these iron stores. It forces the body to replace lost blood with new cells. And (for a number of unstated reasons) THAT is good for heart health.

So, dear-women-of-child-bearing-age-who-are-blessed-as-I-am-with-a-lovely-menstrual-cycle, give blood to save lives. (And to have the cute, pink bandage wrapped around your arm when you're done...not to mention the yummy treats afterwards, which I happily indulged in). And encourage your men to give blood. It may just save their own lives! Woo hoo!
Are YOU a regular blood donor? Or do you shy away from the needle like me-in-my-before-yesterday-life? Discuss!


Michael said...

I guess I'd better go donate blood. I actually want to get my Peru group to donate before I leave the country, since I want be able to donate when I get back.

Anonymous said...

I have to say I am definantly one that shy's away from the needle... everytime I see the list suddenly I remember weighing a lot less than I actually do... no one can argue with the that its not my fault I dont' weigh enough! I did volunteer at a blood drive but they had to keep me far away from the blood... I just about passed out just watching it! But perhaps I should give it a try... :)

Diane said...

Oh. My. Gosh!! Ok, so I'm not a regular donor. I may be able to do it now, but since I HAVE passed out having my blood drawn before, it just makes me a little nervous. You can also bet that I would NOT be one of those who watches the bag fill up. My feet and hands tingled just reading this post. Actually I remember that tingly sensation when I was reading a certain chapter in the Twilight series too. I really should try it though. Heaven knows my weight won't keep me from doing it.

Erin said...

I would love to donate...unfortunately, no one wants my blood...wonder why?? :)

Missy said...

I donate every two months. Been doing that for years now, except when I'm pregnant or don't weigh enough. Actually, its the only reason I weigh myself ever.
I have to be careful.
I love the goodies too and so do my kids. They have a really cool little play area that you can see from the beds and its blocked in so your 1 or 2 year old can't wander around. I always have to take my kids with me. Just the way its worked out. Oh well. They make it easier to do that.