For a long time, I’d assumed I couldn’t donate blood because of my diabetes.
Yeah, I was wrong. But I didn’t find that out until earlier today. I was still thinking about Orlando, and feeling generally powerless. I wanted to do something. I got to thinking about blood donation. My diabetes is under good control. My HBA1C has been relatively normal for ages. Why shouldn’t I be allowed to donate?
So I looked up the eligibility requirements.
The whole process took about an hour. The most annoying part was the finger-prick so they could test my iron. (Their finger-stabber jabs a lot deeper than the one I use to check my blood sugar, but they have to use their own equipment.) The actual bloodletting was really quick. Apparently I’m a fast bleeder.
It doesn’t help the wounded in Orlando. Their blood banks are currently at capacity. (Though they’re asking people to schedule future appointments, because the supplies will need to be replenished.) But it’s a way to help someone.
And a much darker part of my brain keeps whispering that if nothing changes, sooner or later my home will face the same kind of tragedy, and the same need for blood, as Orlando, Virginia Tech, Newtown, and all the rest.
Author Janet Kagan had a page on her website asking people to donate blood. Janet died in 2008, but the page is still there. She didn’t weigh enough to donate herself, so she asked others to do so. She even offered to send a homemade postcard as thanks.
I want to do something similar to encourage more people to donate. For the rest of June, I’ll send an autographed bookmark to any first-time blood donors in the U.S. Depending on how this goes, I may extend that offer indefinitely. It’s not much, I know…but it’s something. (And it will have Katy Shuttleworth’s awesome artwork, similar to my website banner, but with a Libriomancer quote about books.)
Just email me at jchines -at- sff.net once you’ve donated, telling me where to mail your bookmark.
Donate for those who need it. Donate for those people who aren’t able to do so themselves, either for health reasons, or because of outdated, discriminatory regulations. (According to the Red Cross, men who’ve had sexual contact with other men aren’t allowed to donate, though they’re working to update their policies to bring them into alignment with the December 2015 change to that FDA guidance.)
There are a lot of other ways to support the people of Orlando. There are lots of ways to try to make the world better, day by day.
This is one way. It’s one I didn’t used to think I could do. Despite my sore finger and the tender spot on my inner elbow, I’m very glad to have been wrong.