Today at sundown I gave my 77th blood donation (hence the title, ;-)). I’ve been doing this off and on since I was 17, and I have never regretted it. First, I’m lucky in that it never seems to affect me much. Second, my blood type is O negative, which is an incentive to give since it makes me a universal donor. Third, I am CMV negative; this is a virus that most children get before they are five, and most adults carry the antibodies for. However, when young children or people with immune deficiencies need blood, they often need people without CMV, like yours truly. So I know that my blood is appreciated, and that I am making a difference to others, especially with the shrinking numbers of blood donors these days.
There are also some personal benefits. I lose 585 grams every 8 weeks (at least until I drink a bit of water), my blood pressure goes down, and if I drank alcohol it would make me a cheap drunk! The other major bonus, and almost pre-eminent in my thought, are the Oreo cookies and other sweet snacks offered to the willing victims.
I have never had a problem with the procedures, and the donations have been relatively painless. There is one minor ouch when they prick your finger to get a drop of blood that they test for iron deficiencies; then there is a second lesser ouch when they insert the main needle for the donation. The only downside is having to read about AIDS, HIV, Hepatitis, SARS, and the West Nile Virus every time I donate. They also ask you questions about illnesses, possible situations where your blood could be affected (unprotected sex, living in or visiting certain countries, etc), and your general health. Finally they keep refining the procedures to ensure even more safety.
Anyway, I am looking forward to a good hefty supper without any guilt. Ah, when you give you get back a thousandfold (I wish)!