The Gift of Life

by Dana Mandel

I have been donating blood since I was in high school.  I wanted to start sooner, and I passed the minimum weight requirement when I was 10 years old.  The Red Cross made me wait until I was 16, and that was only with parental consent.


I have donated blood in more locations than I can remember and in many different states throughout the US and twice while visiting Israel.  The experience of being tapped is pretty universal.  The refreshment table at the conclusion of the donation is always a surprise.  Most recent days, you are offered a bottle of water or some fruit juice and pre-packaged cookies to get your blood sugar and fluid levels up.  In the past, I have been served a steak dinner and even paid $25.00 cash for my donation.


My typical and preferred donation location is the Presbyterian Church in King Ferry.  I began donating there when I first moved to town in 1987.  I was really happy to see a pile of homemade tuna, ham salad, and egg salad sandwiches.  This tradition has continued until today.  At my early donations at the church, I was accompanied by my infant daughter who remained in her carriage and played with her toys while I was being drained on the table with 6 other people in the same situation.  It may seem like a strange place to bring a baby, but people would comment on how she was so well behaved and adorable, and she is now a very well adjusted and productive adult.


At my most recent donation at the Presbyterian Church in King Ferry, I was very proud to have made my 80th donation and I received my 10 gallon pin from the American Red Cross.  The human body only contains 1.2-1.5 gallons of blood, so I’m glad I didn’t have to give it all at once.  I recently learned that your body burns 650 calories with every pint donated, as the body has to work to replenish itself.  That means I burned 52,000 calories through this process, not including the walk to and from the corner pushing a baby carriage.  I guess the steaks, cookies, juice and sandwiches negated this benefit.


Blood is one of the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person. It is the gift of life.  A decision to donate your blood can save a life, or even several, if your blood is separated into its components (red cells, platelets, and plasma) which can be used individually or for many patients.  Fewer than 5% of people who are eligible to donate actually do.  Will you consider a donation this year?