Blood, Guts and Money

Most of you who follow my story know that I have always been an avid blood donor (both voluntarily and involuntarily). Let's talk about the voluntarily. I started donating with Rob and Gary back in 11th grade just to get out of class and to get free donuts and hot chocolate. It soon became habit-forming, and I started donating regularly, even through college and my early adult life. After tumor #1 in 1997, I wasn't allowed to donate again until I was cancer-free for five years. So in 2003 or so, I was able to start once again. My iron count was so good that I gave double-reds, which took a little longer, but helped more than just whole blood.

In 2007, I found out about tumor #2 when I went to donate, but was found to have a really low iron count. I had no colon cancer symptoms at the time, so it was surprising to get the news. When you get a colonoscopy every year, tumors aren't supposed to appear that quickly. They're supposed to start as polyps but take time to become malignant. Not me. So when you hear a slogan that "a life you save may be your own" or something similar, take it to heart (pun intended). My cancer could have grown much longer if I hadn't accidentally found it by trying to be a good citizen. So fast forward to now. I still can't give because of tumor #3 from 2009, but I still help out. I've been on the board of the Community Blood Services of Paramus, which provides blood and blood products to about 50 hospitals in the NY/NJ metropolitan area. Not a small group. I've used my voice-over skills and recorded commercials for radio and TV, and now I'm given an additional task. Community Blood is opening a brand new state of the art facility, combining separate offices with the center itself. My job is to fill the room opening night, hopefully lining up donors of all kinds -- blood, money, time, more. If a whole lot more than the 2% of eligible donors actually donated, the center wouldn't be bleeding money all the time. Fixed costs are fixed costs. Machines and testing costs money. Each blood product donated generates revenue. Do the math.

During times of national and international disasters, people donate. But most don't realize that it's the day-to-day needs of transfusion patients that takes up the majority of blood needs. Regardless, the Boston chaos may have sparked some to get involved, so here's the opportunity. I'll have donuts and hot chocolate waiting for you.