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If I Can Do It, You Can Do It

Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 23:07 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

10 gallon donorNot to toot my own horn here, but I finally got my ten gallon pin from the American Red Cross.

Pretty, no? It’s about a half-inch long with a tack/clutch back. From my level of excitement at getting it, you’d think it was made of solid gold. But it isn’t the pin itself that is valuable; it’s what it signifies.

For those not familiar with blood donation, one whole blood donation is a pint. Since there are eight pints to a gallon, it takes eight donations to get a one gallon pin. I made 80 donations to get the ten gallon pin, and even though I have met people who’ve gone as high as 25 gallons, I’m still pretty proud of my double digits.

Flip calendarHow long does it take to donate a gallon? That depends on how frequently you give blood. An eligible healthy person can donate a pint every eight weeks. Even if that were possible without running up against 1) a holiday or other day when a donor center wasn’t open, 2) an illness which rendered you ineligible to donate, and/or 3) any other reason they wouldn’t take your blood, you could complete one gallon in 13 months. Ten gallons would take 12 years 2½ months.

It’s more reasonable to give blood four times a year. That’s how often my workplace has employee blood drives. Making every one of those drives would get you to a gallon in two years and to ten gallons in 20 years.

Now think about how much ten gallons is.

10 gallon aquariumWater — A fish tank 20 inches wide, 11 inches front-to-back, and 12 inches tall, filled almost to the top, would hold ten gallons of water, less if you also add a pump, some of that multi-colored gravel, a few aquatic plants, ornamental sunken ships or coral reefs, or fish.

Toyota YarisGasoline — My fuel-efficient, sub-compact car can travel almost 400 highway miles on ten gallons of gasoline. That’s about the distance from my house to the White House, from Walt Disney World to Key West, or from Tuscon, Arizona, go the Las Vegas strip.

10 gallons of milkMilk — It would take me about four months to consume ten gallons of milk, presuming I had one bowl of cereal and a fruit smoothie every day. What can I say, I live alone and haven’t been a much of a milk drinker since before high school.

But like I said before, I’m not really interested in tooting my own horn. What I’d rather do is admit what a great big wimp I am and point out that if a coward like me can donate ten gallons of blood in almost 30 years of adulthood, what the hell is your problem? The entire process takes less than an hour, but the needle is in your arm for only about 10 minutes. The rest of the time is spent reading informational pamphlets, giving a brief health history, having your temperature and blood pressure taken, and enjoying a snack afterward. Yes, there are people who give blood for the cookies.

And don’t forget the extremely valuable and highly collectible gallon donor pins, suitable for bragging about on the internet.

If you’re in the U.S., visit the American Red Cross blood services. You can get more information about blood donation and search for blood drives near you. Do it now. Don’t make me come after you.

Categories: activism & good works
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