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Cheesehead Chatter: We can all be heroes

As I said before, it's a pretty simple process, it doesn't cost any money and your donation could end up saving a life or two. That's a big difference you could make. PineandLakes.com Illustration

A couple weeks ago I decided to do a good deed and donate blood at Pequot Lakes High School's blood drive.

I've probably donated blood about a dozen times, so the American Red Cross has my phone number and email address in its system, which I normally don't mind. But in the last month or so, I've gotten bombarded with emails and phone calls informing me of a critical blood shortage and asking me to donate, as my blood type is apparently in high demand.

So, seeing there was a drive scheduled in Pequot Lakes, I decided to take the hint and do my part to help those in need.

But it didn't quite go as planned.

For those who aren't familiar with the blood donation process, one of the first things a donor must endure is a finger prick to draw a small amount of blood and test the hemoglobin level. In simple terms, hemoglobin is a protein in our blood that contains iron and gives the blood its red color.

The Red Cross employee I worked with that day told me that if a person's hemoglobin level isn't high enough, it means their body might not be able to make enough new red blood cells to replace those lost during a donation. Therefore, a blood donor must have a hemoglobin level of at least 12.5 grams per deciliter.

My number was 12.4.

A second finger prick produced an even lower result of 11.9, so I wasn't able to donate blood. I must admit, I was a little disappointed. In seven years of giving blood, that had never happened to me.

But at least I tried, and I'm glad I did. A blood drive worker told me during my recent donation attempt that only about 5 percent of eligible donors actually donate blood. To me, that's a shockingly low number for how easy the process is.

Now, I understand that some people have a fear of needles or may feel faint at the sight of blood and others have medical conditions or other factors barring them from donating. But for those who are in good health, aren't afraid of needles, don't mind seeing blood and meet all the other donation criteria - which can be found at www.redcrossblood.org - I urge you to consider donating.

As I said before, it's a pretty simple process, it doesn't cost any money and your donation could end up saving a life or two. That's a big difference you could make.

I'm already looking forward to trying again next month, when Pequot Lakes is scheduled to host a couple more blood drives. And I plan to eat a big, iron-filled meal the night before to ensure my success.

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