How trying to save a life may have saved my own

Headlines have warned us on the shortages in the economy, but few have talked about the increasing shortages of blood in our blood banks. Yes, that is right, we are short on blood this summer, right here at home. Every three seconds, someone is in need of blood. In contrast, only 2 percent of the eligible U.S. population participates in blood donations.

See the blood banks depend on us to restock their supplies of blood, typically three-days worth of blood is considered satisfactory. But in 2009, like in many other areas of our lives, blood donations are coming up short. This is pretty alarming considering that around 38,000 units of donated blood are needed every day in the U.S. and nearly 5 million Americans would die each year without lifesaving blood transfusions!

Wow, those are big numbers! But you still might wonder- who is in need of this blood? The answer is many, many, many people. I did a little research and these are some of the most common recipient of our healing liquid. Non-trauma medical cases such as patients suffering from anemia, bone marrow transplant patients and surgical cases depend on the generosity of the blood donor. Other people that might be in need of a blood are premature infants, car accident victims, burn victims, or those diagnosed with cancer.

Knowing this, the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago has gone to great lengths to attract new donors this summer, including this past Thursday, when a blood drive offered donors a chance to win tickets for a White Sox baseball game! There were many people there, people that wanted to make a difference and save a life, among them, moi! But my heroic spirit was shutdown when I was told I couldn’t donate my blood because of my low iron levels.

I was shocked! I have donated blood for many, many years, and my blood has always been good enough. Now it was not performing up to the task! I was very disappointed and after returning home and doing some research I was even a little worried. As you know, I have been training for the Chicago Bank of America Marathon, raising funds and supporting the Red Run Team (the Red Cross marathon running team.) During this past three months, I have been feeling tired but I had attributed this to my new training schedule. Never once I thought that my tiredness, lack of energy and constant sleepy mood was anything else than just getting used to my new running routine.

But after my failed attempt of donating blood and a call to my personal physician, I was diagnosed as anemic.So for the past week I have been undergoing several tests to find out the root of the problem. Though we still don’t know what is causing my new found anemia, it was the act of trying to save a life that perhaps save my own. Who knows? I might be in need of a blood transfusion in my near future and if it were not for people like you, who find the time to donate your blood to the Red Cross, I might be left dry with no place to turn.

So what to learn from this? Doing the right thing sometimes comes around and rewards you like it happened to me. If it were not for the Red Cross, I will still be pushing myself to the limits even when it could potentially do me more harm than good. But also, you never know if you will also be in need of this precious gift.

So this summer, between your barbecues and beach outings, please find a extra hour to save a life. You never know whose life you may be saving!

It is super easy! You can call 1-800-GIVELIFE or visit the Red Cross National Blood donation page at

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