The gift of life

Every 56 days, I make a conscious decision to go downtown and walk into the Canadian Blood Service’s (CBS) clinic at the corner of King St.W. and University Ave to make my regular blood donation.  I don’t do it out of a sense of guilt for a loss of a love one, or out of having a hero complex with the need to feel like I am doing something good. I do it because I can, because it is needed, and because to me, knowing that it saves lives, it then becomes a social responsibility.

When I was younger, it was something I had always wanted to do. One day while walking pass a mobile clinic at my neighbourhood mall, I gave my first donation.

Many of the CBS’s staff that I have spoken to say that most donors start out the same way I do.  Always seeing others doing it, and one day deciding it was their turn to step up. Yet they are still few and far between, leaving a constant need for donors across the country.

Why is it that we as a society find it so hard to give ‘the give of life’ as the CBS likes to refer to their donor’s donations as?

I can understand religious objections, and the share terror some have when it comes to needles, but beyond that, the only excuses that remain are: laziness, ignorance, and apathy.

Medical science has advance to the point where we have the means to prolong life if only we take the necessary steps to do so.

From the time you are registered, screened, and actually give your donation it may take 30 minutes to an hour out of your life which your donation of one pint of blood has the potential to help save three lives.

As easy as it is to save a life by giving blood, it is even easier to save lives by signing the back of your health insurance card and becoming an organ donor.
Thousands of Canadians each year die while waiting on a list for a miracle. They hope and pray that somehow, someone has taken the time to consciously decide if in the case something should happen to them, that their organs be used to help those who are relying on the kindness of a stranger to save their life.

Another simple life saving act is having your blood screened and placing yourself on the national bone marrow registry called One Match. With an increasingly diverse population, and 30 per cent of cases requiring bone marrow transplants unable to find a match from within their own family, donors from various ethnic backgrounds are needed and sought out.

Life saving acts such as blood and organ donation should be as mandatory, and expected from the general public as much as everyone is expected to do their taxes each year.

It should not take you or a love one having an emergency, an accident, or even an illness like cancer to show how vital donations are in saving lives. A donation of a kidney could have given me decades more with my grandmother who died of kidney failure after being on dialysis for several years.

To be blunt, when it comes to organ donations, the majority of the time the potential donors are dead. What use are organs to you any more when potentially the donation could mean life or death for someone else?