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Time for Moore: Blood sport

Did you know that only about 38% of the population is eligible to donate? So if you fall into that category and aren’t a regular blood donor, think carefully about choosing to become one.

JANE MOORE
Jane Turpin Moore
We are part of The Trust Project.

Oops, I did it again; gave blood, that is.

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For the bulk of my adult life I’ve maintained a fairly regular schedule of blood donations. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what initially motivated me, but over time I’ve come to view it as a way of doing something small to help others.

That altruistic notion is indeed one of the prime motivators the American Red Cross notes when striving to entice people to consider donating their blood (in usually under an hour of their time).

Did you know that only about 38% of the population is eligible to donate? So if you fall into that category and aren’t a regular blood donor, think carefully about choosing to become one.

National Blood Donor Month isn’t until January, but that means there are several weeks to schedule an appointment, research the requirements and boost your intake of iron-rich foods to ensure you meet the minimum required hemoglobin level (for females, that’s at least 12.5 g/dL and for males, at least 13.0 g/dL).

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Speaking of blood donor requirements, you must be at least 16 years old (in most states) and weigh in at 110 pounds or more. (The latter hasn’t been a problem for me to meet since age 16 or earlier. But some petite people might find the minimum weight disqualifying.)

It’s sad to hear the U.S. statistic that blood is needed for a patient every two seconds. More reassuring, then, is the knowledge that one pint of blood has the potential to save up to three lives.

Even when I haven’t been feeling particularly lucky or optimistic, keeping a blood donation appointment has a way of making me feel better — another fact the American Red Cross is quick to assert. That’s partly due to the pre-screening questions donors are asked, which always shock me into a greater sense of awareness that my life could be so much worse.

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When the phlebotomist invariably queries me about whether or not I’ve suffered from any one of numerous diseases, or been in prison within the last year, or been exposed to someone else’s blood or had an accidental needle stick, my mood improves with each increasingly confident “no,” in concert with my rising “empathy meter” that kicks in as I ponder all the ways in which my fellow humans might be currently struggling.

While 25% of people may need to receive blood products at some point in their lives, it turns out that giving blood may actually contribute to donors’ long-term health. For instance, regular blood donation reduces one’s risk of heart and liver ailments caused by iron overload, stimulates blood cell production, burns calories (never enough to get me below that 110-pound threshold!) and is linked to lower blood pressure levels along with a lower risk of heart attacks.

Basically, even if you are a curmudgeon who would never roll up your sleeve and let someone withdraw your blood for the well-being of another person, you can do it for your own selfish reasons and still realize numerous benefits.

Oh — and if you happen to be feeling down about election outcomes for whatever reason, the emotional boost from knowing you can nevertheless make a positive difference just might pull you back from the depths of despair.

Because whether your political tendencies trend red or blue, our blood all looks the same.

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Related Topics: WORTHINGTON
Opinion by Jane Turpin Moore
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