Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Stones and Turnips Need Not Apply

Time for a brief public service announcement.

I donated blood this afternoon, and I encourage everyone to do the same. It's an easy way to do something good, since it doesn't require you to do anything but lie down and let somebody stick you with a needle.

You can't catch any diseases from donating or bleed to death if the technician is clumsy or anything like that. And if needles make you queasy, just look away when they stick you. The whole process takes less than an hour, they give you free snacks and drinks when you're done and you can do it every eight weeks.

My blood type is O negative which makes me what they call the "universal donor." In a pinch, anybody can take O negative blood. Danelle is AB positive, also known as the "universal taker." Draw your own conclusions (just kidding, honey).

Whenever I go to donate, there's a little orange note on my chart that says "Baby Unit." That means my blood is also safe to give to newborns. Needless to say, I regularly get called as soon as I'm eligible to donate again to schedule my next appointment.

I started donating back in college. One day for whatever reason I skipped breakfast, skipped lunch then went to donate in the early afternoon. I finished up and headed to what they call the "canteen" to get a free cup of juice and slice of pizza.

The next thing I know, I'm flat on my back looking up at some guy slapping me in the face and saying, "Bob? Bob?" I replied groggily, "My name is Steve." He said, "You passed out and we couldn't find your ID, so I just picked a name."

They put me on a cot, I called Danelle to come get me and spent the rest of the day wiped out in her apartment. She obviously eventually married me more for my giving nature than my common sense. Take my advice -- when you go to donate follow their instructions to drink plenty of water and eat a good meal beforehand.

The good folks of Bonfils Blood Center do a great job here in Denver. I was fortunate to be a part of their annual Drive for Life with the Denver Broncos for 10 years. It's become the state's largest single-day blood drive, bringing out nearly 20,000 donors since its inception in 1998.

The Broncos organization really gets behind it -- lots of players come to the stadium the day of the drive to sign autographs and thank everyone who comes to donate. Rod Smith has been a real driving force (no pun intended) in getting the guys' support. He has a daughter with sickle cell anemia, so he understands how important blood donation is.

One year I was donating next to a rookie quarterback named Matt Mauck. He wasn't with the team very long, but he seemed like a pretty nice guy from what I could gather while we chatted. We started about the same time but I finished before him, so I can technically say I've won a race against an NFL quarterback.

I'm close to getting my second "gallon pin" which Bonfils gives people for every eight pints of blood they donate. They say a single donation can be used by up to three patients, so when I get that second pin that will mean I may have helped almost 50 people.

Not bad for just letting someone stick me with a needle.

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