Last week was a big anniversary for me. Not a birthday, nothing involving a significant other. Aug. 2 was the date I could start donating blood again.
Last summer, my sister and I, in order to further cement the bonds of sisterhood, decided to get our ears pierced. Neither of us really wanted to get tattoos, so we settled for something that would necessitate the purchase of new jewelry (she got some dangly, fancy-looking earrings, I got ones with purple brontosauruses on them).
While I don't regret getting my ears pierced, it did make me ineligible to donate blood, which I had been doing pretty regularly since I turned 17. A year has passed now, and I'm able to resume my regular trips to the Upper Peninsula Regional Blood Center in Marquette.
It might seem a bit strange to miss getting a slight poke from a needle every eight weeks or so. I don't know that I'd describe giving blood as "fun." However considering the fact that blood donations help keep people alive, I figure it's a fairly small inconvenience for me to donate.
Blood donations are used at 13 hospitals around the U.P., not just Marquette General Hospital where the blood center is located. Donations go to help any patient who needs it, from accident victims to those who are recovering from surgery.
Although I started out donating blood in high school, in the past couple years I've started donating platelets, which help blood clot, and are, in my own words, mega-important for patients fighting cancer.
Even though it takes longer than donating blood, donating platelets is pretty easy on the part of the donor. You sit back and read or watch TV while your blood runs through a machine that separates the platelets out and then returns the blood to your arm.
Donors can give platelets every two weeks, and platelets are always needed.
I guess being a platelet donor is important to me because there's no good reason for me not to do it. The actual process (needle and all) doesn't bother me. I can spare the time it takes ever other week. I'm healthy, and so is my blood. I have giant veins in my left arm, or so the blood center staff tells me every time I go to donate.
Most of all, I like the idea that what I'm giving goes to someone nearby. Even though I might never actually meet the people who receive my platelets, the U.P. is a small place. Chances are I'll run across someone who is alive because of a donation I made. I probably wouldn't ever know that I've met them, since I don't know who receives my donations, but I don't need to have met them to know I'm doing something important.
If you've never donated - either blood or platelets - before and want to learn more, I'd suggest going to the blood center's website at www.mgh.org/blood or giving the center a call at 906-225-4610.
Editor's note:?Mining Journal Ishpeming Bureau reporter Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.