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With today being the anniversary of 9/11, I felt led to open the vault and share what I wrote back then. This column about blood donation was written the day after the tragedy and ran Sept. 16, 2001.

And no, I'm still not too thin to donate blood. And, yes, I'm overdue.

I never donated blood before. It's not that I'm afraid of needles. It's not that I can't take a little pain. And it's not that I'm too scrawny and frail to meet the 110-pound weight requirement -- it's definitely not that.

It's just that I'm lazy. Lazy and apathetic and too caught up in my own trivial matters to think about it, let alone go out and actually do it. But Wednesday morning [note: the day after 9/11], getting to the American Red Cross building (after I searched redcross.org to figure out where a branch was -- I'm embarrassed to say I didn't know) was the only thing I could think about.

I was in good company at the Little Rock blood services center at 401 S. Monroe where there were lots of people who were tired of sitting around feeling bad. People who wanted to sit around feeling good. Or at the very least, people who were still going to sit around feeling bad, but were going to do something good at the same time.

Upon entering the center, I was handed a blood donation record form with all the usual application questions -- name, address, birthday. Besides weighing at least 110 pounds, donors must be at least 17 years old. Then there were the not so usual application questions: "Have you been injected with bovine (beef) insulin since 1980?" And, "In the past 12 months have you given money or drugs to anyone to have sex with you?" After answering no to everything except the first question ("Are you in good health today?") and realizing that I've apparently lived the world's most vanilla existence, a woman checked my Social Security number and sent me upstairs to a room where all the other donors were watching the news to wait. And sample the fruit, Oreos and Pepsi donated by local businesses. And wait.

And fill out the application again. Apparently the first form wasn't correct, so some of us got to respond to, "Have you ever had Chagas disease or babesiosis?" and realize how boring we were all over again. During this time, I got a chance to speak with a Red Cross communications specialist, about what people can do to help.

"We need blood donations," she says. "There is a certain emotional need people have to do something and we're certainly happy to take their donations."

And they don't just need them now. They'll need them in a week, two weeks, a month, when patients are going through the healing process. The whole blood is usually broken down into components, which can be used to help several people, not just one. Will our blood donations help the people in New York? Washington? Pennsylvania? Maybe. The blood collected is registered in a national database and then sent where it needs to go.

The communications specialist comforted me by saying the procedure wouldn't hurt too much. That and a person can lose up to two pounds from giving blood! OK, it's temporary and it'll be right back on when the body replenishes itself, but still! Two pounds! (Nope, even without them I'm still nowhere close to being too puny for the weight requirement.)

After an hour or so, my number was called, which meant another sitting spell in a waiting area downstairs. Fifteen minutes later I was called back and had my temperature and blood pressure taken and my finger pricked for an initial blood test. Then it was time. I was led back to a room and seated in a chair and a Red Cross worker got to thumping around the crook of my left arm. My veins were scared and wouldn't show themselves no matter how hard I squeezed on the spongy heart, so he had to work the right side instead. Success. My guy got it right on the first try.

It felt weird. It felt a little painful. It felt uncomfortable.

And it felt wonderful, like one of the better things I've done in my life.

After it was all over, I got a T-shirt, a do-gooder sticker to wear around all day and some cookies. Mmmm. Some really good cookies. You know, I think those were actual Girl Scout Samoas too. Great, great cookies.

No worry about me failing to meet the weight requirement when I come back in eight weeks to do this again.

Email:

jchristman@arkansasonline.com

What's in a Dame is a weekly report from the woman' hood.

Style on 09/11/2018

Print Headline: Post 9/11, we did all we could

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