Per the website theFreeDictionary.com, a pint is defined as a unit of measurement approximately equal to 16 fluid ounces or about 0.5 liter. This is equal to about two glasses of water, a can and a half of beer, or one-third of blood needed for the average blood transfusion.
The Red Cross has been siphoning off the blood of millions for years. They have been doing it one pint at a time, and I have been a willful and proud participant in the bloodletting. In no way am I suggesting they are in any way associated with vampires because this has been proven a myth simply with their symbol being a cross. They are, as most blood donating organizations, a generally good organization to support especially if it is with your fluids.
Last week I received a call from the Red Cross. The woman was clearly reading a script as she requested my fine red fluid, which is happy to be in my veins I might add, to be donated in a time of need to some people who need it much more than me. Every day their is an accident or some form of violent natural disaster leaving thousands needing precious blood. Per the website, 38,000 people need blood every day and 30 million “blood components” are used in the United States each year. My one pint, I gave graciously, is only one third of the average needed per transfusion. While looking around the room as the blood flowed from my arm into the plastic bag, I saw only 2 other people participating in the process. We three hopefully saved one life.
While my blood is not the most precious Type O which about 45 percent of people have, whether it be positive or negative, it will hopefully be used to save a life. Saving lives may be enough for myself and many others, but these organizations have come to use tactics to lure in people who may not otherwise donate. These tactics include money. Although many I have found do not unless you consider plasma donations, a component of blood sometimes used in pharmaceuticals , they often offer another bait. The Red Cross, on each visit I have made, has offered me a coupon for one thing or another. In the past I have been given coupons for free hair cuts, free car washes, and also free “junk” (pins, stickers) which I consider souvenirs of my experience.
My most recent adventure to the Red cross lasted only 30 minutes, 20 minutes of which was preparation. For me this time was a record seven minutes from the actual prick of the vein with the needle to it the time removed. In the past it had been as much as an hour. According to the woman siphoning it off it was because I had consumed more liquids prior to donation. I try every time I donate to drink plenty of water. This time was no different. I had consumed quite much more water this donation which made for an easier experience.
Following the donation I was given my choice of juice, cookies and chips. The big surprise for me was the “souvenir” for this trip. This time it was an ice cream scoop and a coupon for a free pint of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Ben and fucking Jerry’s, you read me right. Ecstatic as I was I kept my cool.
Some companies offer incentives to donate blood. For one example, the employee of a local utility company receives a maximum of four hours off work for his donation, or the remaining of his shift whichever was most. Whether this is the best incentive to providing a much needed fluid or not is debatable. The truth is it works to lure in the blood bags for a Ben & Jerry’s souvenir.
Following my 10 minutes of drinking juice as recommended by the Red Cross, I walked out thinking of all of the wonderful flavors of ice cream I could enjoy, completely forgetting about the life I saved. In hindsight, the life I saved was much more valuable. Although the reward of ice cream was great, the pint I received was not as important as the pint I gave. A pint for a pint and so much more. Give blood so someone else can enjoy a scoop.