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Confessions of a first-time blood donor

July 13, 2016   By Willard Strong in

Santee Cooper has always supported organizations that enhance the quality of life in our communities. Among these are the United Way, the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross.

It’s the Red Cross that I recently began becoming more intimately involved with. For the first time in my life, I gave blood at a blood drive held at our corporate headquarters in Moncks Corner. It was a fulfilling experience. I know hospitals are always in need of this most precious commodity, what the Red Cross has succinctly termed “the gift of life.”

This time of year blood is particularly needed, as people are on vacation and preoccupied with other summer activities. I admit to being somewhat squeamish about rolling up my sleeve. No, I wasn’t afraid of the needle. I have blood drawn every six months to monitor cholesterol. My barrier was a silly one. I thought giving blood would increase the probability of getting sick and then I’d have to miss work.

So I decided that last Thursday I would endure the minor prick of the finger (to test your iron level, too low and you’re a donor no-go) and in the arm. What impressed me is the level of professionalism the Red Cross showed, particularly when I disclosed on the signup form that I was a newbie.

Reassurance and care was shown, and I believe it’s genuine. Of course, they do want you to come back next time. The screening process is comprehensive. They go to great lengths to make sure you’re a qualified donor. They can’t afford not to. Sure, it’s a pun, but they can’t have “bad blood.”

The actual donation time was about 15 minutes to get 16 ounces of blood. In one day, your body automatically replaces it. Just drink some fluids and you’ll be fine. I felt no ill effects and I plan to give next time.

Eighty-six fellow employees, including summer interns and retirees, donated last week. I was number 86 and about six were first-time donors like me.

How about you? If you or your loved one is in an accident or has surgery and needs blood, of course you expect blood to be available. You can be part of the solution. Santee Cooper regularly hosts blood drives at a couple of our offices and you can sign up to give at one of our locations, or at another location near you. Giving blood is a great way to give back. And one day you may be the one who needs donated blood to live.