It had been several years since I gave blood. It's easy to get out of the habit.
I grew up to be a blood donor because my father was. He had those little red blood-drop pins designating how many quarts or gallons he had donated. He was my role model.
But it occurs to me that giving blood is more than a random act of compassion for your fellow man. It's a moral issue.
Am I the kind of person who is willing to give my blood to save someone else's life?
Am I willing to take the time and make the effort to give blood a couple of times a year so other people who desperately need it might live?
Or do I expect others to do it for me? That's what it really comes down to.
I was concerned, because I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer a few years ago, that they might not want my blood anymore. In fact, I subconsciously thought it might be an excuse to avoid the needle.
But I checked it out and learned that you're eligible unless you've suffered a blood cancer. Most others, if you've been cancer-free for a year, they'll gladly take it.
Unfortunately, too many people come up with a million reasons not to give blood.
They're scared of needles. They think they might contract AIDS. They figure somebody else is giving so they don't have to. They got turned down once and consider that a lifetime exemption. They simply talk themselves out of it.
Truth is, only 9 percent of the population donates blood. Nine percent.
Granted, some can't give due to certain illnesses or because they've been exposed to contagious diseases in foreign countries.
If you can't give, they'll tell you.
Don't diagnose yourself.
Wednesday morning I filled out the forms, rolled up my sleeve and looked the other way when Leslie prepped my right arm and slipped in the lifeline.
Truth is, it really doesn't hurt. You lie back and pump a rubber ball for a few minutes and it's over before you know it.
Fifteen minutes later I was done. The bag was filled with my beautiful red blood, and soon it would be available for someone who had suffered an injury, or a child who needed surgery.
For the record, I'm O-positive, which is one of the kinds they really need. So it felt good to do something that took only a total of 45 minutes. You can locate a donation site by checking out www.lowcountryredcross.org.
So here's my challenge to you: Walk around your workplace today and ask 10 people at random if they give blood.
You'll be surprised at the reasons and excuses people come up with for not giving.
Then, when you think you've heard it all, ask yourself the same question.
Reach Ken Burger at 937-5598 or email@example.com.