Donate blood to help others
The Kansas City Star
As a beastly hot summer tries to find fall, it’s the election season that threatens to exhaust my patience. Campaign ads expressing extreme opinions and ignorant candidates are disappointing.
Bold speeches or proclamations may be catchy, but they usually overlook the complexity of our country’s long list of problems. It’s easy to start wondering whether the individual vote or action matters.
A couple weeks ago on a hot summer afternoon, I was reminded that there is a place in our community where the individual action really does matter. It is at a community blood bank.
Blood drives can bring out the very best in a community. Deciding to donate blood is usually a can-do, I’ll show you, feel-good sort of action.
The appeals for blood donors to come forward sound like well-worn campaign clichés but offer a genuine connection to the larger community. Here’s my pitch: Donating blood is an easy way to feel hopeful, not hopeless; to feel positive, not negative; and to feel a hint of relief from the election climate of weary cynicism.
Blood banks work well when individuals set aside time, to pay forward 16 ounces of future goodwill, in hopes that someone else will return the favor. Your deposit today saves the life of a child or adult tomorrow.
There is no substitute for blood. Donors and recipients of blood transfusions cross over almost all boundaries. They’re inclusive, not divisive.
It’s no surprise to me that students are often some of the best donors. Blood banks hope some of these students will make donating a life long habit.
Donating blood is almost fun when it’s social. It is affirming to have a friend or partner witness and applaud your good deed. Donating with your family, friends, neighborhood, church, office, club or your professional association magnifies the positive associations you create. I smile at the memory of my husband telling everyone, “Hey, she donated blood today.”
A person who needs a blood transfusion doesn’t know and probably doesn’t care about your age, gender, address, whether you were born here or there, your political party or job description, your education level, what language you speak or what you look like.
It’s random luck that I have yet to need a blood transfusion, but my day will come, and the odds are, so will yours. My visit to the blood bank, from the medical assessment to the donation time to raiding the well-stocked fridge for drinks and snacks, took about an hour.
The attendants were friendly and reassuring. I left with a few helpful statistics about my hemoglobin and cholesterol levels, my pulse and my blood pressure, all courtesy of the standard safety procedures for the collection, screening and testing of blood.
One local blood bank estimates that only 5 percent of the population donates blood even though about 60 percent of individuals are eligible. The reasons for not donating are a bit like the reasons people give for not voting.
They just never think about it or they don’t have the time. They don’t think it matters or they’re afraid.
If you are afraid, I extend my support and encouragement, and hope you will give it a try.
If you aren’t eligible, accompany a friend to one of the dozens of blood drives happening across our region and then buy that person lunch.
In this endless season of campaign fatigue, it’s so easy to focus on our differences and to lose sight of what we share.
Blood drives and blood donation centers can remind us that we are living in the same community.
Don’t look for a hero in the political arena when that role can be yours.
Be a hero, save a life. You are the difference.
Sarah Baum of Mission Hills has worked in finance and as a community volunteer. Reach her by email at email@example.com or write to Midwest Voices, c/o Editorial Page, The Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108.