Sunday, August 03, 2008

Notes From My Knapsack 8-7-08
Jeff Gill

Everyone has a talent or skill of some sort.

Mine happens to be bleeding. Not everyone can bleed quickly and well, especially in a rare blood type, and when you can, that gives you a chance to excel when Olympic competition is far beyond your grasp.

I was at the Licking County satellite center recently, donation needle in my arm, working another pint closer to 12 gallons donated over the last thirty years.

They’ve moved across Newark’s West Main Street to a spot just east of Licking Memorial Hospital in the row of medical offices that face their parking lots. The hours for donation are the same, Tuesdays from 12 noon to 6 pm and Fridays from 8 am to 2 pm. If you’re 18 years of age and have over a hundred pounds on you (I qualify!), they are very likely to take your arterial output.

Yes, they still ask you a long series of questions after checking your pulse and blood pressure and checking your iron (it really is a mini-physical every 60 days for a regular donor), but the “yes” and “no” stuff is very private and on a computer screen. Basically, if you’ve gotten a recent bootleg tattoo or piercing, they may ask you wait, and some other screening questions help them as they continue learning how best to screen the blood itself.

But the bottom line is most fairly healthy people who haven’t eaten marrow pudding in Yorkshire recently can give blood. Can . . . give blood. And don’t.

Laying on the cot with a needle in my arm, even a nearly hundred timer like me doesn’t want to stare right at the spot where I got stuck, so I looked up at the “Supply Board.” This is a white board where they keep an updated list of numbers, by blood type (A, B. AB, O, and +/- for each), showing how many units were currently in storage in central Ohio, and for that particular type, how many days’ worth of supply that meant.

Not a single category was listed at more than 2 days.

Quite a few were listed as “-“ which meant on an average day of surgery and car crashes and such, there was barely enough – or not enough – to cover that day’s needs.

My blood type was “-.” Hey, it’s nice to feel useful, even when all you’re doing is laying there with a tube hanging off of your arm.

As I said, I’m good at bleeding, do it quickly, and soon the cot was open for the next . . . well, there’s part of the problem. They needed a next to take my place, whatever the blood type, but I could have taken my time for all the action they had in line.

I got my fig newtons, passed on the coffee, slugged back some water, and asked “do you have many signed up for later?” The staff sadly said “No, but we sure could use more donors.” I took the card, with the phone number, 348-4696, or 1-800-GIVE LIFE, and the web site where you can schedule an appointment to donate,

And said, “I’ll tell my friends you need them.” They really do, too.

Remember, “No Child Left Inside” next Tuesday, Aug. 12 – let’s get all kids outside for at least an hour to put bugs in a jar or get their sneakers muddy. Check out for ideas!

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio, and has given blood regularly since he was 18; tell him how donated blood helped you at

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