Time to get back in bloodmobile saddle


Today I am planning to do something that I swore off years ago and thought I would never do again.

I am planning to call the American Red Cross and set up an appointment to give blood.

I first gave blood not long after I turned 18 when I was a senior in high school.

The only knowledge I had of giving blood was that it required a needle going into my arm and what I had seen in my living room.

It was a frightening situation as a nurse came to my house to give my parents a mini-physical as part of their insurance requirements. One part of the physical was having both my parents give a few vials of blood.

My dad has never been a fan of needles and never did well having his blood drawn. My dad was sitting at the kitchen table when the nurse started; however, after the blood began to drain from his face, leaving him as white as a ghost, the nurse moved him to his recliner.

The nurse finally got what she needed and left, but those moments watching my father — pale and lying in his chair — were enough to frighten me.

That scene played through my head as I walked into the bloodmobile that day and laid down into the chair.

I remember feeling quite woozy afterward as I walked to the snack table to eat some sweets before leaving school.

The second time I gave blood was almost a year later, and the situation turned out a lot worse than the first.

I remember lying in the chair and having the nurse express concern as the color drained from my face while the blood began to flow from my arm into the bag.

After the procedure was done, I think I passed out almost a half dozen times between the exam chair, the snack table and the bed behind a partition.

The next few times, I either managed to expel the orange juice the nurse gave me or freaked out when they did the iron test, preventing me from getting into the donor chair at all.

It was almost a decade ago when a nurse told me that based on my history, giving blood was almost more dangerous to my health than it was a benefit to the recipient.

I used that excuse from then on as a reason not to give blood. I didn’t feel bad about it, saying I was doing it for my health.

My fear continued to plague me as I began having regular blood samples taken for some medical issues. I eventually got to the point where I could have my blood drawn without stumbling out of the clinic looking like a ghost.

I realized I could probably handle giving blood, but I still never thought of going to the bloodmobile — that is, until an incident this past weekend changed my mind.

My dad has cancer. In the past week he has received more than a half dozen bags of blood as the doctors have struggled to stop a perpetual bloody nose.

On Sunday night, I watched as a red-cellrich bag of blood was pumped into my dad’s body as he lay in a hospital bed.

I read the information on the bag and began thinking about who gave the blood that was now giving life to my dad.

I don’t know if my own donation would go to my dad or a small child or someone my own age. And really, it doesn’t matter.

I’ve got a new memory. When I sit down in the donor’s chair this week, I won’t be thinking of my dad slumping in the recliner. I’ll be thinking of someone’s precious gift that kept him alive.


Shay Burk

Veteran Tribune reporter Shay Burk writes whatever is swirling around her mind each week. Read her columns on Tuesdays for her humorous thoughts on everyday life.

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