Friday, December 28, 2018

Why you’re better than 32% of most people

By Ian Seth Levine, Volunteer

I'm not going to try to convince you to donate blood. There's something so sacred about blood that we create folklore centered on creatures taking it from us: the German Alp, the Jewish Lilitu, the Latin American Chupacabra. While these creatures aren't real, our fear of losing something valuable is.  And from that fear stems myths not only about losing blood, but also about freely giving it away. For example, many people think that donating blood is an inconvenient, unnecessary, and painful way to contract an exotic and incurable disease. But much like Dracula, these are only myths.

Here are the facts:
A single car accident victim could need up to 100 pints of blood. If we took all of the drivers who crashed their cars last year in Virginia, we could completely pack Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium, PNC Field, and BB&T Ballpark. A person can donate only one pint of blood at a time, so can you really rely on enough people to step up and donate should you need it?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Why? 17% of people surveyed who don't donate blood say it's because they "never thought about it." In other words, if you asked one hundred people to help you after a serious collision, the first seventeen would completely ignore you. Then, an additional fifteen people would tell you they're "too busy.”

I'm not going to presume to know your schedule. I know only my schedule. I teach for two universities, write articles and blog posts for American Red Cross, and run my namesake blog about writing. It took me longer than I'd care to admit, but I'm not as busy as I thought. In between my responsibilities were pockets of down time, which I tended to fill with binge-watching and PinstaSnap BookTube. But in less time than it took to watch an episode of Narcos, even I donated blood.


I think blood is fascinating. For example, the milky blue blood of the horseshoe crab is so good at detecting infections it's valued at $14,000 a quart by biomedical companies. Your blood has traces of gold in it. Some insects have violet blood. Dogs have blood types just like humans.

And, if you scheduled an appointment to donate right now, you'd be better than 32% of most people.

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