Want to save a life? It's bloody easy

Want to save a life? It's bloody easy

There are few things I love better than hopping on my virtual soapbox to spout off about something that’s bugging me, and what gets my goat more than anything is inconsiderate behaviour.

Over the years, I’ve confronted any number of people acting like jackasses towards others.

Some nitwit blaring music at 2 a.m.? I’m at their door in my bathrobe, letting them know that (surprise, surprise!) there are others in the vicinity that need their beauty rest.

Teenagers yakking in public so that all and sundry are exposed to their F-bombing immaturity? You guessed it:  I’m the one telling them to take their potty mouths elsewhere, much to my sons’ embarrassment.

For me, life is all about doing your best to be respectful and kind toward your fellow earthlings.

So it was with a great deal of chagrin yesterday that I read the following fact online: only four per cent of Canadians donate blood regularly.

Four per cent.

We are living in one of the most affluent, stable, privileged countries in the world, and we can’t do better than that? Put in perspective, that means only 40 people in 1,000 bother to donate.

This absolutely amazes me, considering that giving blood has never been easier or safer than it is now.

I grew up in a household where giving blood was the norm.

I’ve given over 30 times, despite pregnancy and iron deficiencies.

A generational shift?

My father started as a teenager in the navy, donating every chance he got from then until he died at 65. I remember him coming home late from work with his arm bandaged, and I knew he’d been to a blood drive at the local Legion or town hall.

He made it seem very commonplace, like getting a needle stuck into his arm was no big deal. To him, it really wasn’t.

blood donor

The average blood donation takes about an hour once every three months. ‘You probably spend longer than that checking your social media every day,’ says Jo Davies. (CBC file photo)

Raised in a generation that was trained to put the greater good before their own wants and needs, he’d lived through the Dirty ’30s, when unemployment skyrocketed, people lost their homes and going hungry was a reality rather than an abstract concept involving starving kids in Africa.

He told me about his father, whose job as a Winnipeg police officer was the only thing standing between his extended family and the bread lines.

The Second World War was a landmark for both my parents, who remembered the food and fuel rationing that came with it. A couple of months of saving ration cards meant enough sugar to bake a birthday cake or enough gas to take a drive.

‘That tiny little girl is alive, in part, because ordinary people took an hour to donate blood. They decided that doing right by their fellow human was a priority.’ – Jo Davies on two-year-old blood recipient Hilarie

Sacrifices needed to be made to benefit others, so they made them. Period.

Yet here we sit at 2018 in the First World, where deprivation is (for most of us) a foreign concept. Most of us wouldn’t recognize true self-sacrifice if it came up and whacked us right in our Starbucks drive-through.

So what’s the deal? Why do so few of us actually act on the Canadian Blood Services’ eloquent “Blood: it’s in you to give”? Are we that afraid of needles? Fainting? Springing a leak while we’re picking up our complimentary doughnut and coffee afterwards?

Please. If the popularity of blood and gore fests like It, Game of Thrones and The Punisher are any indication, the majority of Canadians are perfectly fine with spilling more than a few red cells.

Besides, if you really are squeamish, I guarantee you there is nowhere you’d rather be to feel safe and pampered than a Canadian Blood Services donor clinic. Last visit, I was asked half a dozen times how I was feeling or if I wanted anything.

If only I could find a boyfriend who was half so solicitous. Ahem.

Save a life

If your excuse is you don’t have time, that’s pretty lame, considering the average blood donation takes about an hour once every three months. You probably spend longer than that checking your social media every day.

Clinics are held in all sorts of spots, including local churches and community centres. Donor clinic staff are absolutely amazing at getting you in and out as efficiently as possible.

Unless you have some medical condition that excludes you, you are probably eligible to donate the pint requested. Of that donation, plasma and platelets are regenerated within a few hours or days, respectively, and red blood cells are replaced within a few months.

If you’re still waffling, think about what your blood can do: save a life.

Know someone who’s been in a car accident? How about someone who’s gone through cancer treatment?

I do. Her name is Hilarie, and she just turned two. Without blood transfusions, she might not have made it.

That tiny little girl is alive, in part, because ordinary people took an hour to donate blood. They decided that doing right by their fellow human was a priority.

Being considerate: consider it.

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Published at Sun, 14 Jan 2018 06:00:00 -0500