Last week I was fortunate to participate in a tour of the metro Atlanta headquarters of the American Red Cross. The purpose of the tour was to educate participants on the Red Cross’s five key lines of service — disaster response, assistance to the armed forces, CPR & first aid training, international services, and, of course, blood services.
The tour walked us through the important work done in all five lines of service, but no area struck me more than the blood donation area. Specifically, I was continually confounded by the numbers. In short, the Red Cross is in a constant fight to have enough blood and blood products to meet its needs. Our speaker mentioned that every two seconds someone needs a blood product — and you really never know when that person could be you or someone you love. It occurred to me that especially in a down economy, donating blood is the ideal way to give! It costs nothing but a little bit of your time and can literally save a life.
To better understand the situation, I asked one of the volunteers about the reasons people are hesitant to give blood so I could dispel the rumors and encourage the ATL Intown Living community to participate in this critical task.
- “I am afraid of needles.” Ok, I get it. A needle prick is not the most pleasant feeling in the world, but it lasts just a second! Once that part is done, you can just lie back and relax.
- “I don’t have time.” Giving blood, including the pre-donation questions, generally takes less than an hour.
- “I don’t think I qualify.” There are some people who are unable to give blood due to certain medical conditions or travel outside the U.S., but before you assume you are one of them, make sure you review the eligibility criteria on the Red Cross website.
- “I gave last year.” Thank you! But did you know you can give whole blood every 56 days, double red cells every 112 days, and platelets up to 24 times per year? Grab a friend and make it a regular activity.
If all of that doesn’t convince you to donate, know that you’ll feel great when you are done AND you get to nibble on some tasty cookies. So are you ready to take the next step? Great!
The American Red Cross Midtown Donor Center is open and eager to accept donations of whole blood and blood products seven days a week. You can walk in, schedule by calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or schedule an appointment online. The Metro Atlanta Red Cross headquarters is located at 1955 Monroe Dr. in midtown Atlanta. Less than a mile from Midtown Bowl, just off I-85 at the Monroe Dr./Armour Dr. exit. You can also search for donation events by zip code to find other donation locations.
Following the tour, I asked a friend to commit to donating with me every two months. We’ll use it as our time to catch up and give back to an organization that saves lives every day. Our time will be especially meaningful as this friend would not be here if it were not for the Red Cross. I urge you to make a similar commitment. It’s easy, quick and free – and your donation will be used to save the lives of up to three people. It truly is the gift of life!