I still consider myself a new dad and very much still picking up the ropes (my daughter is coming up to 18 months now). It has introduced me to a new world and some surprising stories. I thought that I would share one.
It seems that parents attract other parents and since having a daughter, we know a lot of other parents and their kids. Now childbirth is never a particular nice topic. I had always rated it somewhere on a scale between really difficult and nightmare (well my perception of it). However I was recently told a story that added a new notch on that scale. An experienced mum of one already, when she gave birth to her second developed complications and suffered severe blood loss and ultimately organ failure! Fortunately she was fine, and through a combination of donated blood and platelets (the things that make blood clot) the is doing well and now raising two boys.
Anyway, I don't know about you, but I have been the type of person who takes these sorts of things for granted. Everyone else donates blood… I don't need to bother. But what an opportunity. A blood or platelet donation, something I have in abundance and can make more of can save a live.. an actual person.
Now my day job is pretty boring in comparison. How many people in their lifetime are able to say they they have helped to save a life? Sure you have your military heroes, police, fire-fighters, Doctors, Nurses and the like. But for your standard sort of office workers this is a remarkable change to give something extremely special back to the community.
So with a bit of inspiration behind me I signed up to give blood for the first time. There were quite a few forms to fill out, a pint of squash and a sharp scratch. About 15 minutes late a pint of blood had been taken and given to the blood bank (in exchange for a couple of cookies :) ). It came with a surprising sense of achievement and a feel good factor, that something very simple can change the course of a persons life. I was pleased and proud to have participated.
That said, not everyone is able to give blood. My wife is prone to fainting, and I have been told that some people's vein just don't let the blood out. Anyway, I guess that is how life is, but it stresses that the people who can donate do donate, and that they make a habit of it.
A while after donating blood, I received a letter asking if I would consider donating platelets. Platelets are the part of your blood that forms clots when required (a sort of plug to stop bleeding). They only have a shelf life of 5 days, so are not something that hospitals can stockpile, so need a steady stream of donors. Feeling positive from my last blood donation I said yes. The process takes quite a bit longer than donating blood. I was there for about 90 minutes. You get hooked up to a machine that takes your blood, extracts the platelets from a centrifuge (it spins around to separate them) and then returns your blood. Its a bring a headphones and a book job, but still for 90 minutes of my time, its an achievement that i am proud of and something that I intend to make into a habit.
I just wanted to share my story. I am sure that you will have your own stories of special people in your lives who have needed blood or platelets in your life. Perhaps you already make a habit of donation, or have tried to donate but cannot. But to those of you who have not tried or considered… perhaps you could do something AMAZING today too?
A few helpful links it you feel inspired :)
Image created in GIMP by Anthony James. Photo taken by Anthony James, edited in Pixlr.