Just over a year ago on my dad's birthday in August I decided it was time to get over my hang-ups and donate blood.  What in the world does my dad's birthday have to do with blood donation?  For those who don’t know me in real life, my dad was a major blood donor until he was diagnosed with cancer.  After he passed away he has been remembered in the community – through a local race being named in his honor or the scholarship awarded at the high school he taught at.  But neither of those things were a personal tribute from me regarding my dad.

Before he passed away I weaseled out of blood donation by reasoning that he gave for the both of us – my dad and I have the same (semi-rare) blood type of A-negative.  He was in the blood center every 8 weeks doing his donation, modifying his running workouts around his donation schedule.  But me?  I couldn’t find my arm veins and knew that it would be hard for the needles to find their mark if the veins were hiding like that.  I knew for a few years after his passing that I should go in and continue his legacy, but I wasn’t ready yet.  Apparently parenthood changed more than my mentality, as my veins are easier to find now!  With the resolve coming from my dad’s birthday passing, I made my appointment to go in and donate at a Puget Sound Blood Center last year just before Labor Day.  It was super easy and fast, everyone was really nice (not that I thought they wouldn’t be, but it was good to experience all the same), and I ended up going back 8 weeks later to do it all over again. 

For my third donation, I was recruited to try double red blood cell donation where they separate out the red cells from the rest of the blood and returned the “unused” portion back into my arm.  I think if it wasn’t all done with a single needle I would have said “no,” but it was just as easy as whole blood donation.  It takes longer, but I only need to go half as often, so it’s a good trade-off for me as a busy working mom.  I’m a month away from being able to go in for my third double red donation and you can be sure I’ll be there.

Ultimately, my dad was never able to donate his organs due to the melanoma, but he did donate many, many “gifts of life” over the years and now I can continue the blood donations and be registered as an organ and tissue donor as well.  I can’t think of a more appropriate way to honor my dad than continue giving as he did.  I make sure to post on Twitter or Facebook every time I donate to raise awareness that anyone can do it, but I also note that it was done in honor of my dad.  Without his being a blood hero, I would have never had the courage to become one myself – and that is the true legacy of my dad.

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