june-14-world-blood-donor-dayA Universal Donor

by Jenna Baker, Aqsa School

My best friend often boasts about her O-negative blood type saying, “I’m a giver not a taker.” I simply laugh and say my A-positive blood type does not give me the same power as her but I donate what I can. However, I often find myself wishing I could share that same power she has-the power to help anyone in need. I specifically wished to possess that ability last year when I learned the true value of donating blood. In February of 2012 my uncle was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphatic Lymphoma). In August of 2012 he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit when his bone marrow transplant took a toll on his health. Despite the six hour commute I managed to visit him every weekend as I juggled my busy junior year school schedule. Throughout this experience, I put all my Biology and Anatomy studies in full gear. Within a couple weeks, I was using medical terms like “platelets” and “bilirubin” on a daily basis. His low platelet count is what directly brought me closer to my dream of an O-negative blood type. I wanted to be an ultimate donor and possess the strength to give to any patient I encountered. By directly witnessing the use of several peoples’ blood and platelet donations to my own uncle, I felt eternally grateful and indebted to all the giving hearts that kept his own heart beating for another hour, minute, and eventually, to his last second.

On October 27, 2012, at 4:03p.m., my uncle (Allah yarhamhoo) passed away surrounded by his parents, siblings, and I.  I turned sixteen only a couple weeks after his passing when I had the opportunity to donate to the Lifesource blood drive. I began to think of all the platelet and blood donations that were ultimately wasted in my uncle’s case. I thought that the slogan “Save 3 Lives” was a hoax. However, this was just the sadness in me speaking. I began to reflect on the true value of donating. The truth is that donating does more than just potentially save a life. You let a family be with their loved one at least a little longer. You give selflessly and expect nothing in return. You save someone that you will never know you. You give a part of yourself that you will never get back. You are a superhero in disguise-a person that will never face those they save but help anyway. After donating for that first time, I felt a sense of relief. I thought of the day it would reach a patient just like my uncle and could see exactly how it would give comfort to another family just like I once did.

Some people do not realize the value there is in making that simple donation. However, through exposure, explanation, and encouragement, I hope to bring many contributors to the blood drive. By sharing my uncle’s story and opening others to the beauty and gratification that comes with this experience, I hope to be a motivation for others.  I may not have an O-negative blood type and have the ability to single-handedly give to all. However, I can be my own kind of “universal donor.” My renewed dream is to bring in other people of varying blood types to donate in compensation for who I cannot give to. In this sense, I can become a universal donor. I hope to show my fervent love and dedication to the Lifesource blood drive and make a difference in the hearts of donors and the lives of patients.