Donate with purpose

The Red Cross collects an average of 16 million blood donations every year. However, a whopping 320,000 of those go unused, because they must be discarded.

This gap lies in reason for giving, not willingness to give.

There are countless editorials that encourage donation, so there’s no need to add to the chatter. Willingness to give hasn’t changed in the past, and is therefore unexpected to change now. What can – and needs to – change is students’ attitudes towards giving blood.

At Decatur, students often give just to say they did, get free Nutter-Butters, rack up on community service hours, or, the worst excuse, skip class.

Giving blood is a commitment, something to be passionate about – not something to just skip class for. If you wouldn’t donate money to an unknown cause, why would you dare donate your blood?

Of course, blood is blood, and the Red Cross appreciates any blood that they can receive, but these artificial reasons for giving frequently end up hurting rather than helping.

Students who do not intentionally donate – that is, their bodies aren’t in prime condition to donate – slow the process. Blood is thrown out after donation if it is tainted with antibiotics or STDs, among other things.  Nearly 15 minutes is wasted if students do not have high enough iron levels – they cannot pass their pre-donor screening – and up to 30 minutes if students have drunk too much alcoholic or caffeinated beverages or not enough water and faint in the process of donating.

I personally drink water and eat foods high in iron consistently (my mother is a dietician, after all), but I certainly do not demand that all high schoolers follow such a strict regime. I do suggest that high schoolers who plan to donate at least prepare a little – and don’t donate to simply miss a boring class lecture.

The need for blood is constant – with over 38,000 blood donations needed every day. The Red Cross cannot afford to waste its time screening ineligible donors or collecting blood that they will eventually have to throw out.

Decatur will host another drive on April 25th, but this time around, don’t donate just to say you did or to score some free cookies. If you’re going to donate, donate with purpose.