Yesterday, for the 43rd time, I reclined in a very comfortable chair at Dak Minn Blood Bank. I couldnâ€™t even feel it when Megan inserted a needle into my right arm. I couldn’t feel it forÂ two reasons:Â Megan is very good at what she doesÂ andÂ my right arm has a most beautiful and healthy vein from which to draw.
Breaking my 43 visits down into pints, quarts and gallons,Â means Iâ€™ve donated 5 gallons plus 3 pints of my AB positive blood.
I thought that was pretty good until I picked up the Dak Minn Drop newsletter that had a story and photo of Odney Ellingson Jr., on the front cover. Odney is Dak Minnâ€™s highest donor to date. He started donating in the late 1970s after an uncle told him there was a need.
This morning, I decided I wanted to talk to Odney. I happened to call his parentsâ€™ home and they gave me their sonâ€™s cell phone number. Odney answered on the second ring. I told him who I was, that I had read about him at the blood bank and that I wanted to blog about him. I asked if this was a good time to talk or if he was at work.
Odney let out a hearty chuckle. â€œIâ€™m at the blood bank right now,â€ he said, â€œgiving blood.â€ His grand total now stands at 64 gallons. No, that is not a typo! Over the course of manyÂ years, one pint at a time, Odney has donated 64 gallons. AlmostÂ uncomprehensible!Â
Boy, do I have a long way to go!
Iâ€™m happy to donate my blood because I believe it is the right thing to do. Someone somewhere needs blood every two seconds and one small pint can save up to three lives.
Hereâ€™s something else Iâ€™ve learned: only 37 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood and less than 10 percent actually do annually. So I firmly believe that those of us who can â€“ should.
Then, I wondered how our bodies make blood. From a website I gleaned this: Blood is not made in a kitchen, but it has ingredients, just like a recipe. To make blood, our bodies need to mix:
1. red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body
2. white blood cells, which fight infections
3. platelets, which are cells that help stop bleeding if we get a cut
4. plasma, a yellowish liquid that carries nutrients, hormones, and proteins throughout our bodies.
We donâ€™t go to the store to buy these ingredients. Our bodies make them. Bone marrow â€” that goopy stuff inside our bones â€” makes the red blood cells, the white blood cells, and the platelets. Plasma is mostly water, which is absorbed from the intestines from what we drink and eat, with the liver supplying important proteins. Put all these ingredients together and we have blood â€” an essential part of our circulatory systems.
Thanks to our hearts (which pumps blood) and our blood vessels (which carry it), our blood travels throughout our bodies from our heads to our toes.
Going to Dak Minn every eight weeks is such fun. During the screening process by delightful people such as Deb, the director, Megan, Julie and Peggy, you receive a mini physical as they check your pulse, blood pressure, body temperature and hemoglobin. Plus you meet delightful volunteers such as Tom and Linda who greet you when you walkÂ in.
And when itâ€™s all said and done, you can pick your treat: sweet rolls, pop corn, juice or coffee.
Gosh! I can hardly wait for June 21 when Iâ€™m eligible to donate again.Â MyÂ 44th pintÂ will bringÂ me up toÂ 22 quarts.Â I may never catch up to Odney, who I also learned is a retired East Grand Forks police officer, but Iâ€™ll have fun trying.