Wednesday, December 24, 2008

give life

This holiday season, if you want to make a charitable donation, save some money but give somebody another chance at life. Give somebody more time with a person they love. Save a life. The holidays are tough times for most people, especially if somebody they love is sick. The holidays are also a good time to sit around and remember those moments with lost loved ones.
In the years preceding their deaths, both of my grandfathers became sick at different times and required blood transfusions.
My father's father, who suffered from a chronic bleeding condition, required several transfusions because of it. Specifically, I remember he became fairly sick about two years before he died and required at least 4 blood transfusions (over a two day period). He made a full recovery and lived another two years at full strength. (Requiring at least one more transfusion during that time, I think specifically of platelets.) I cherish every extra moment I got with him because of those transfusions. I cherish every extra lunch, every extra phone call asking me how to use the computer, phone, tivo, every family holiday. Eventually, after living a full life to the age of 87, he passed away one morning during his nap. His 10am nap. That he was taking before he was going to go give a lecture. After he sorted his slides.
My mother's father had heart issues and metastatic prostate cancer. Around the same time my father's father got sick, my mother's father had a heart valve replacement. I am sure that the procedure required a transfusion or two, and the pig's heart valve they put in him gave me an extra two years with him, although he was never quite the same, because his mental accuity and other issues were just troublesome. He got really sick about six months before he died, and he was in between the hospital and the nursing home. About every two weeks, he would go back to the hospital for another blood transfusion. The transfusions always made him feel better, and they gave us just a little more time. I am so grateful to everybody who gave blood to give my grandfather even a few more weeks, and while to some, keeping the elderly sustained is a waste of time and resources, it gave us time to spend time with him, and it gave us time to get his affairs in order. At the end of somebody's life, time is everything.
So that is why I give blood. I give to give back, I give to give others the same chances I had, I give to give children, grandchildren, spouses another chance with somebody they love. I don't care whether the recipient is a good person, a bad person, liberal, conservative, whatever. I firmly believe that everybody deserves a second chance. I started giving blood long before I even realized what it meant, but now that I have firsthand experience with how important it is, I believe in giving even more strongly.
So this winter, give somebody else the gift of life. It is painless, and if you are afraid of the needles, just look away. It takes maybe two hours. And the juice and cookies are excellent.

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