I have been in blood banking going on 20 years now. I love my job. I love the fact that I am making a difference each day.
But when a crisis happens in our community, it is the outpouring of blood donors to support those victims that gets me through the crisis.
I first witnessed this years ago during the raid on the Branch Davidian compound here close to Waco. When I saw on TV the officers being shot at I immediately called our blood center to see how many units of blood we were shipping to the hospital. And as the scheduling coordinator for staff, I knew my next thing was to mobilize all our collection staff to have them come in on that Sunday to help collect blood for the emergency.
Imagine my surprise when I arrived at the donor center before the doors were even open and saw over 100 people there. They continued coming until the compound burned down, even though they were aware that no one was using blood after the first initial strike.
I saw this happen again and again. The Oklahoma City bombing, when we went to war during Bush, Sr. presidency, after a Class 5 tornado and of course when the Twin Towers were struck.
On Thursday, when the largest military base, Ft. Hood, that is just 45 minutes from here, was attacked by an armed gunman I saw it happen again.
Thursday evening we saw about 120 donors. And again yesterday we saw over 100. We sent out 190 units in the first day. Every one of our blood drives all over our territory are seeing an increase in blood donors. So much so that at this time we are asking folks to wait a couple of weeks to donate more.
Why do these donors come out during these tragedies? I mean, if you look at the big picture, there is a tragedy happening somewhere every minute. Someone needs blood every 3 seconds. It could be a surgery patient, a cancer patient, an accident victim. And the truth of the matter for those big tragedies is that if someone hadn't donated blood BEFORE it happened, there wouldn't be blood to save those lives WHEN it happens.
Here is my thought (and you know I have lots of thoughts!): People need to do something PHYSICAL when a tragedy happens. They can pray, they can cry, they can wring their hands, but for a healing to occur in a community, they have to do something that comes directly from them. Like donating food for a food shortage, donating blood during this time makes them feel a part of them has actually become a part of the victims. And that they have really made a difference.
If you ever witness one of these type blood drives (and I pray that you don't!) you will see the emotions on the faces of the donors. And if you stuck around after the doors close, you will see the emotions on the faces of the staff. And it is at that time a healing begins. Emotional wounds are healed during a blood drive.
The one thing that each blood donation center would like to be able to get across to donors is that they can be a part of a healing everyday. Those patients in the hospital needing lifesaving blood may not have been the victim of a gun welding insane man, but they are victims none the less. Victims of illness, victims of accidents, victims of violence.
And they need you, everyday. When you donate blood, try to imagine your neighbor, your child, your spouse as the one needing that donation. Because you never know who is the face on that blood bag.
As the holidays approach, donations drop. And after an outpouring of support like we have just seen, during the weeks after donations drop.
We need donors. Just not today, but everyday. We need you in the weeks to come.
Give blood. Often. You can make such a difference. You can be a part of healing, a part of something great!