Everyone has that one cause that they hold near and dear to their hearts. For some it may be spending time at animal shelters or volunteering at soup kitchens but for me, its donating blood. Ever since I can remember I would go with my mom to the local blood drive and watch her donate blood. It seemed like a no-brainer that as soon as I was old enough, I would donate as well. The youngest you can start donating is at the age of 16 with your parent’s permission as long as you meet all the requirements. Unfortunately, I didn’t meet the weight requirements until I was 17, but I wanted to find a way to help out. I started volunteering through our student government and by my senior year I had worked my way up to coordinating the events.
Did you know that donating 1 pint of blood can save up to 3 lives and that every 2 seconds someone needs a blood transfusion? According to the American Red Cross, there are 5 million patients in need of blood every year, but only 38% of the population is eligible to donate blood.
Less and less young people are donating blood these days. It is understandable to be nervous, especially if you are afraid of needles! The process is quite simple though, and you even get snacks and juice after. The American Red Cross hosts over 200,000 blood drives a year and its simple to find one near you. Winona State hosts blood drives about twice a year, as one just happened a few weeks ago. Signing up is easy and they accept walk-ins if the drive is not too busy. After registration the donor will go through a health history questionnaire and mini physical. After this, you are ready to donate blood! The actual donation process takes about 8-15 minutes or until a pint of blood has been collected, and the needle insertion is just a quick pinch. After donating, it is important to have a snack and something to drink. After about 15 minutes of relaxing, you are free to resume your daily activities and enjoy the fact that you just helped save lives!
Recently, I read an article about the need for bone marrow donors and felt compelled to become a part of Be The Match. Every three minutes, one person is diagnosed with a blood cancer and every 10 minutes someone dies from a blood cancer. Be The Match has become a global leader in bone marrow transplants with over 12.5 million selfless volunteers on the registry. The registry is for patients who need a bone marrow transplant but don’t have a matched donor in their family. The need for new members on the registry is constant because there are still patients who do not have a match.
To get involved with this organization is very simple. Just like blood drives, there are Be The Match drives. The organization recruits new registry members between the ages of 18 to 44. There are a few medical guidelines that have to be met but the process is a simple cheek swab. The cheek swab is analyzed for tissue type to hopefully be matched with a patient. Only about 1 and 540 members of the registry are matched with a patient in need and go on to donate. But every new donor that joins gives new hope a patient searching for a correct match.
I had the privilege of getting to participate in Winona State’s recent Be The Match Drive a few weeks ago. It lasted 3 days and simply took 15 minutes. It was as simple as walking into the East Hall in Kryzsko Commons and hopefully becoming the hope for a patient battling.