Every three weeks I spend part of my Saturday at the Delta Blood Bank facility in Modesto.
I’m there to give platelets.
Some folks think I’m a tad nuts. The reason is simple. It involves basically laying for about two hours with a needle stuck in your arm while squeezing a rubber ball every five seconds or so. That doesn’t count the time beforehand for routine clearance tests or afterwards that includes a nice bone chilling return of your blood minus the white cells.
I sometimes doubt my sanity as well. I use the time to read although you can watch TV or they will give you a DVD player complete with your choice of a movie. Anyone who knows me realizes that I don’t like sitting for longer than 15 minutes without moving around. A polite person would say I get itchy. The truth is I go stir crazy. Relaxing - at least by not moving - isn’t on my Top 100 list of my favorite things to do.
Each time about 80 minutes into the process I start asking myself why I keep coming back. It pretty much shoots my Saturday as I get home late from work on Friday and have to be back again by late afternoon. There are a ton of other things I could be doing. But I keep going back on the assumption I’m doing some good.
I seriously doubt when I go in this Saturday that I will question why I’m there no matter how monotonous it may get. It is all because of what Jagada Chambers said to me on Thursday.
Jagada, for those who do not know him, is a Manteca Bulletin sports reporter. He is also a proud father who was on cloud nine when his wife Dawn gave birth of their son Jyriaun 10 months ago.
His words were simple yet poignant: “All the times I gave you a bad time for giving platelets I now understand why.”
To be honest, I’d give my right arm if Jagada didn’t understand why people spend three hours from start to finish so they can have white cells taken from them.
Jagada’s son is undergoing chemo to combat a cancerous brain tumor.
A little inconvenience is a small price to pay to help someone fighting for their life.
The folks at Delta Blood Bank told me that was one of the uses of platelets when they first talked me into becoming a donor almost two years ago. I had been giving blood fairly regularly at the time.
It was a good thing to do but it was still abstract. I’ve known chemo patients over the years but never really made the connection that it was absolutely critical for some people to survive.
What amazes me are people who have been giving platelets for 10 years or more. They don’t miss an opportunity to do so.
It is a blessing to have good health. I try my best to enhance what I got with the roll of the DNA dice. My “issues” - bunions, slight sclerosis, bad eyesight, and upper body strength is borderline pathetic - are trite in comparison to what others deal with. And when it comes to a baby who should have a whole life ahead of them, it makes you realize that spending a couple of hours every three weeks is a small payment of thanks for good health.
Donating blood - or platelets - does make a difference in the lives of people you will never meet.
And when you realize that there is an unselfish donor out there is making it possible for a friend’s son to live, it makes you feel kind of small for even thinking about not donating.
For more information about donating blood, go to the Delta Blood Bank site at: