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Everyone knows it’s important to donate blood. We see the ads and hear the stories about how just one single donation can save up to three lives. That is why over the past couple of years I have given blood four times. Not a lot mind you, but I’ve gone when I can. Or when their commercials make me cry.

Last weekend my roommate and I were summoned by the Blood Donor gods to donate because there is an urgent need for blood right now. (Hey bikers, wear a helmet once in while.) My roommate and I immediately made an appointment and looked forward to the free cookies.

When I talk to people about why they don’t donate blood most of their reasons are due to inaccurate information. Most of them are scared of the entire process. I’ve always found this rather odd because giving blood is actually pretty harmless and easy. I mean let’s look at the pros: Cookies and Coca-cola in the morning? Good. Getting free blood work? Sweet. A warm lunch afterwards compliments of the clinic? Awesome.

But there is one problem I realized about the whole process that has been plaguing me for the past week or so. Before you can donate blood you have to complete a survey about your life history, especially over the past 6 months. It turns out that completing this survey was an emotional roller coaster for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love checking the “no” box for questions like “Have I ever had malaria?” It’s also reassuring to remember that I have never received a “dura matter (Brain covering) graft.” I don’t know what that is exactly, but I’ve watched enough Grey’s Anatomy to know that that is a good thing not to have had.

While answering those questions can be good for your self-esteem, it’s also hard to come to the realization that you have not “been outside of Canada, other than the U.S in the last three years.” It just reminds me of my trip to Bali that I never seem to be able to go on. Sigh. Chalk it up to the “woulda, coulda, shouldas”

Sadder still is the reminder of the fact that my childhood dream of “taking care of/or handling a monkey or their body fluids” has yet to be achieved. I mean really, what have I done with my life?

Yes, I realize I should be grateful for many things that they talk about on the survey. I’m pumped that my family doesn’t have Creutzfeldt-Jokb Disease. It’s also great that I haven’t had to take “a rabies shot or graft in the past six months” either. But must the questionnaire remind me that I haven’t lived in Europe for 5 years nor have I been to Africa?

The whole idea of blood can be a scary one. There are the needles and….well no I think it’s just the needles. But it is an important right that most Canadians have and not enough of us exercise. After all, the entire process usually only takes an hour. That’s right in the time that you watch an episode of Grey’s Anatomy or Oprah you could have saved 3 lives. For more information about donating blood, visit http://www.blood.ca/

Mike Morrison