Many Canadians have good excuses for not donating blood.
Blood Services might have denied them, for a number of different reasons.
They often travel internationally. They have a new tattoo. They're men who have sex with men. Their hemoglobin levels are too low. They have a rare health condition or just a cold.
But I hear some bad excuses, too.
The dumbest excuse I hear is that they're scared of needles.
They're busy and their local clinic doesn't have hours that work with their schedule. Depending on where you live, that excuse doesn't hold up: Many clinics are open on Saturdays and early on weekday mornings.
They're afraid that they either don't have enough blood to give, or that their body won't be able to replenish the blood they've lost. (You do and it does.)
They're scared of catching a disease.
But the dumbest excuse I hear is that they're scared of needles.
How old are you? Five? I understand if you were scared of them as a kid when you got your booster shot, but children are afraid of a number of things.
You're an adult who understands what's happening and hopefully trusts that the person delivering your vaccination or taking your blood is a professional and isn't trying to hurt you.
Needles can be sinister if someone you know injects illegal drugs, or you still believe those urban myths we all heard as children about being pricked by one in a movie theatre seat and ending up with HIV.
It only involves giving up less than half a litre, and takes less than an hour of your time.
But needles are still the primary way that medical professionals get substances we need into our bloodstreams, and will be for the foreseeable future.
Listen: donating blood actually saves lives. It only involves giving up less than half a litre (which Canadian Blood Services refers to as a single unit), and takes less than an hour.
And donations have probably helped a few people you know.
Your friend's son who had leukemia? He may have needed eight units a week, according to Canadian Blood Services.
The person on your street who got into a serious car accident? They could have needed up to 50 units.
The blood donor agency needs 100,000 new donors before the end of March to keep up the blood supply.
Apparently the main reason people don't give is that they haven't been asked, but I'm going to be mad if fear of needles is up there, too.
The point is that lot of people in Canada need blood, all the time, and it behooves us as people who can actually donate to just suck it up and look away when the needle goes in.
The one that the phlebotomist uses is obviously a bit wider than the one used to give you a malaria shot, but not by much. Insertion stings only a little bit, mostly because of the disinfectant they use to clean the area. You don't have to look as it goes in, and the phlebotomist will cover the area with a piece of gauze during donation.
The person who needs the blood is having a much harder time than you
Then, 10 to 15 minutes later, you're done and it comes out. Hold a wad of cotton on the area for another five minutes and you're sent off with a Band-Aid to get some pop or cookies.
If you're someone who does get nervous at the sight of needles, you can breathe a sigh of relief that it's over and probably realize it wasn't as bad as you imagined.
And you can tell yourself that the person who needs the blood is having a much harder time than you.
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