by Leslie Alexander
united blood services volunteer
During the last year, I have volunteered for United Blood Services, helping to organize the Pine-Strawberry blood drive. During this time, I have learned a great deal about why people give blood.
Donors have told me that they give because they believe they have a debt -- their son or daughter was in an accident and needed a blood transfusion. Some donors feel a sense of community responsibility and that's why they give. Others give because they themselves might need blood someday and they want it to be available. Some give because they have a rare blood type. Some people simply believe in saving a life.
There is also a large number of people in our community who are unable to give blood. For some, their health or religious beliefs won't allow them to donate. Others, but not many, are either too old or too young.
Very few of us know when we'll need a blood transfusion. We certainly don't plan motor accidents, or injuries at work or at home or when we're out walking in the Rim country. We don't plan on our friends and family members getting sick or our children's lives being endangered.
Pine and Strawberry residents have responded to United Blood Services needs; our blood drive has grown considerably because of our efforts. But United Blood Services recently issued an emergency appeal for donors. This means that the demand for blood is not being met. It means that we need more people to give, to help save lives.
Some of our donors are as comfortable giving blood as they are going to the doctor for an annual physical. Many are frightened by the sight of blood and needles, and yet they continue to give.
Some donors used to worry about contracting infections when giving blood and were relieved to find out that all equipment is new, disposable and used only once. It's impossible to get an infection from giving blood.
Some donors thought that their blood wasn't special enough. Not true. We can't make blood in a laboratory. In Arizona alone, we need more than 550 pints of blood every day to treat trauma or surgery patients or people receiving transfusions for serious illness.
Some people have worried about bringing children along to blood drives. Children are always welcome. Quite simply, they are the donors of the future.
Some people still think that only doctors, nurses and paramedics can save lives. Not true. Most of us are capable of saving a life by the simple act of giving blood and it's never too late to start giving.
Now is the time of New Year's resolutions. Make one that you can keep. Give blood in Pine from 12:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan 5 at the Pine-Strawberry Community Center.