By Kathryn Igou
TLG VP Operations
Two years ago, I participated in an American Red Cross blood drive through Roswell Rotary. I very rarely donated, just when there was a drive at work.
But after my donation, I received a letter from the Red Cross telling me that plasma from my blood type, AB positive, was the universal donor and in high demand at every ER. They asked me to become a regular donor. And my first reaction was ugh…needles and going into a donation facility every month for a couple of hours. Did I really want to commit to that?
But now that I am into my second year of monthly plasma donations I can say that it has been one of the most rewarding acts, especially in these desperate times. There is nothing like being in a room where people are giving this gift of life. It makes you think of all the recipients….those with life threatening diseases, people from car accidents, people having surgery. The Red Cross even lets you know specifically where your blood has been used. My plasma has been used at Grady, Northside, Piedmont, Emory, and sometimes has traveled to smaller GA towns like Albany.
It also makes me think of all of the medical personnel in hospitals currently fighting for patients all over this country. Their sacrifice every day…their risks of contracting COVID-19, the pain they witness daily, and the comforts they have given up doing this work. So humbling.
I have come to treasure the two hours every month where I gather perspective as I donate blood. Just being grateful that I am a donor and not needing the blood transfusion myself….that my family members are not having a health crisis where this plasma would be lifesaving. No matter what is going on in my own life, I have those two hours of reflection to practice gratitude and to see all of the others from my community who are donating as well. It’s become a very special and grounding time for me.
And now during COVID-19, I see people who are donating their plasma because they have recovered from COVID-19and their antibodies are especially valuable to those fighting COVID-19. Though we are all masked up at the donation center and very spread apart, it’s a great feeling of community. The blood donation center has become a very real example to me of the Rotarian motto of “Service Above Self”. Yes, it’s a time commitment and it does involve a needle, but I really treasure those monthly trips to the Red Cross.
Kathryn Igou Kigou@turknett.com 770-270-1723