The first time was in college. I had probably partied the night before, but I remember getting on the table and starting the process, only to break into a cold sweat. When the phlebotomist came to check on me, she said, “How are you doing?” and I said, rather weakly, “Fine.” She promptly said, “No, you’re not,” and pulled me off the table due to dehydration.
A few years later I tried again. By now, as a standard practice, the Blood Services workers tested each donor for anemia prior to getting them on the cot. I flunked the test. I got frustrated and resolved to give up trying to give blood, writing myself off as a bad candidate.
Fast forward to March 2013. Not only am I working for the Red Cross, but a blood drive has been scheduled in the board room of my own office! I had no choice but to try again. I was issued a donor card, I passed the hemoglobin test (meaning that I’m no longer anemic), I read the book about restrictions to giving, became grateful that I hardly ever travel to distant lands, and hopped on the table. Sadly, I had not had a lot of water the night before, and the phlebotomist could not find a vein that would work. Believe me, she tried, and that was more painful than one would think! Discouraged, I grabbed a cookie and walked away.
But the fourth time was a charm. Call it the luck of holding a blood drive in our fabulous new office. Call it the luck of having Kristian Culbertson, A-1 phlebotomist, as my tech. Call it the giant gallon of water I drank the night before and again in the morning. Whatever it was, I was able to give blood! I filled the unit bag in 4 minutes and 52 seconds!
As I lay on the table, satisfied that I was finally helping to save lives, I looked up at the flags on our wall. I zeroed in on our Red Cross banner. I thought about the millions of lives that had been saved over the years by people who are willing to give blood.
And I was grateful.
Rosie Taravella, CEO, Central New York Region