COLUMN: Help save people and get free cookies

On Saturday I saw one of my best friends. It wasn’t the typical visit of wine and movies on the couch.

On Saturday I saw one of my best friends. It wasn’t the typical visit of wine and movies on the couch. Instead, we sat on her king-sized bed and talked quietly about how lucky she was.

The day before, my friend was in a multi-vehicle crash on Highway 1 in Abbotsford. You may have seen it on the news, or read it in the paper, or online. There were at least eight vehicles involved.

She was the one extricated from her black Hyundai Accent after it was lodged under a dump truck. Miraculously, she survived with no broken bones and was released from hospital the next day.

She did, however, receive three large lacerations to the back of head and lost four units of blood  – nearly half the amount that’s in an adult human body.

I found it strange that she wasn’t given blood at the hospital after losing so much, but the doctors told her she was healthy enough that her body could make new blood without much of a problem.

I’m also a healthy person and I too can make new blood without a problem. Mind you, I’ve never had to replenish four units of blood before, but I have lost one whole unit of blood before.

Twenty-five times.

See, I’m a blood donor. Recently I donated my 25th unit of blood – and afterwards while there I drank my 25th cup of tea and ate my 25th packet of cookies (because cookies and juice just don’t go well together, it has to be tea and cookies).

I was quite proud of myself that day. Geeky as it may sound, for a long time I was looking forward to receiving the small teardrop-shaped pin that us twenty-fivers get – a simple red pin with “25” on it.

And I was pleasantly surprised to open a letter a few weeks later to find a sparkly ‘bronze’ donor card with my name on it. I like to think of that card as something similar to a fancy platinum MasterCard that I can flash at people to show them how important I think I am.

But my 25th donation is nothing compared to many others. Imagine donating 50 or 100 times. My dear friend and former co-worker, Penny Lett, told me that the next pin she’ll be getting is her 125th donation pin. Now that’s dedication!

But that’s the type of person Penny is — very caring and selfless. In fact, it was Penny who encouraged me to make my first donation about 10 years ago. I thought about it for a while, asking myself “why should I donate blood?”

Have I ever been a recipient of donated blood before? No.

Has there ever been someone close to me who suddenly needed a blood donation? No.

Was it because there was a sudden shortage of donated blood in Canada? No.

I decided to do it because I can. Simple as that. Because I am eligible to donate blood.

I don’t know how many people I’ve helped by donating blood, but I do know that the process (about an hour to an hour and a half of answering questions, being tested, and waiting) is not that painful. Heck, even the needle isn’t that bad.

And to make it more pleasant, every single person who is there to take your blood, ask you questions and walk with you over to the cookie station will thank you for coming in that day. Guaranteed.

I know many people who can’t donate blood for various reasons – they’ve lived in, or visited, foreign countries that are on the no-go list, they have medical issues, or (sad and discriminatory as it may be) they’re a homosexual male.

Someone I know won’t donate specifically because of the latter reason. I respect her choice, and I don’t agree with that restriction by Canadian Blood Services either, but I still donate, and I do it for several reasons.

I donate because I know there is always a need for blood. I donate because I know my blood will in fact be used, never  wasted. I donate blood because I want to.

But to me, the number one reason you should donate blood is if you’re eligible.

The number two reason is for the free cookies.

If you are eligible, think about it. You could save many people’s lives.

Jenna Hauck is a photographer at the Chilliwack Progress.