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This is a blatant self-congratulatory plea for you to go and do likewise: GIVE BLOOD. Maybe you haven’t thought about it lately. Maybe you’ve tried and failed in the past. Maybe your health won’t allow it. Maybe you just can’t get past the ICK FACTOR. I’m just inviting you to think about it now, and re-examine your reasons or excuses for not doing it. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Yesterday, when I was tired of reading, tired of Netflix, and tired of doing nothing, I trekked over to the Community Blood Center. I passed the screening. I gave up a pint (or a pound) of O Negative whole blood, which is the so-called universal donor type. That means anyone in trouble with their own blood supply can use some of mine. That’s a pretty good reward for six-and-a-half minutes of easy bleeding.

Sounds gross, doesn’t it? The nice person beside the lounger informed me that this was my 150th donation. I vividly remember the first time I donated blood. I was a college sophomore, and we were giving blood for shipment to Viet Nam. Sorry to say, donated blood still goes to war to this day. But I hope this particular pint stays closer to home. In a next-day Thank You and survey I received by email, the Community Blood Center linked in a recording of an adorable 11-year-old girl claiming five additional years of life (so far) thanks to the transfusions available to her. Now that’s taking unfair advantage, don’t you think? I’d go back to the Blood Center tomorrow if I could, for that little girl.

The irreverent poem below will be included in my new poetry collection coming out in 2018. I don’t like to think I’m making a deal with God with this blood donor business. But I never fail to give thanks that I enjoy the health to do it. So…go on. Give it a try.

I’ve shed more blood than Jesus.
There’s really nothing to it.
From time to time, I’ve saved a soul
and didn’t die to do it.
I haven’t got a golden crown
for gallons I have given,
no promise of eternal life,
no glory ride to heaven,
no mystic explanation,
no complicated creed.
A bag of hemoglobin
fulfills the human need.
O beautiful the bleeding heart,
O negative the way
that leads to the salvation
of someone’s child today.
My body manufactures cells
that oxidize like rust.
O Lord replenish them, I pray,
until I turn to dust.
Barbara Loots


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