“milk on glass” by Frank Luca on Unsplash

The sheet was divided into two sections. I printed my name under the walk-in heading because I hadn’t scheduled an appointment.

The waiting area was empty, as were most of the donation chairs. A white board with colorful lettering told me it takes 40 pints of blood to support a liver transplant. That’s all I had time to read before Eric introduced himself and led me to an intake room.

“Can you pull up your sleeves on both arms?” he asked.

We made small talk while he took my vitals. Eric used a square of gauze to soak up a couple of beads of blood from my finger before collecting a tiny sample. Donors have to pass an iron test before they’ll let you donate. The prick was painless — it’s the noise that gets me — kinda like the puff of air they blow in your eye at the optometrist’s office. Temperature: 98.0 Pulse:55 Blood Pressure: 115/76 Hemoglobin 14.7 — that’s good!

Eric’s getting new tires for his Chevy Impala this weekend. I have dinner plans on Saturday night. “Now if you’ll please review the donor information sheets and answer all of the questions on the computer survey please? When you’re finished, just open the door and somebody will come to get you.”

It was Eric who came to get me. He swabbed my arm with iodine and I looked away as he inserted the needle. Eric noticed I was focused on the sitcom mom who was try to buy a friend for her son. When candy didn’t work, she gave the kid a dollar. “I only watch this show at work,” Eric told me.

“Every other time I come in, there are Westerns on,” I replied.

“Oh — that’s Sandy. She loves…hmmm…I’ll call it classic TV. Westerns, Andy Griffith, Leave It To Beaver”

“She’s not here today?”

“Left about an hour ago.”

The foam I squeezed today was blue — a gentle squeeze every five seconds.

It only took about ten minutes to fill up my bag. Eric removed the needle and asked me to hold my arm over my head while he took care of buttoning up and segmenting my bags. Then he asked me to bring my arm down, applied a band-aid and gave me my parting instructions — no heavy lifting or hard exercise today, call if you become ill in the next 72 hours, you’re eligible to donate again on December 19.

There were two volunteers in the snack recovery area today. I chose water and a bag of pretzels as my refreshment. The woman volunteer was telling the man volunteer that she went to a movie over the weekend — A Star Is Born. I asked her if it was a re-make of the Barbara Streisand movie. She said she thought it was, although she didn’t think it was exactly the same. I could only grin when she professed her strong interest in the appeal of Bradley Cooper. The male volunteer rolled his eyes.

I’m really fortunate. In all my 50 years, I’ve never received the gift of somebody else’s blood.

One unit of whole blood is roughly the equivalent of one pint.

Disclaimer: Beer and blood donation do not mix. Please refrain from drinking alcohol on the day of your donation.

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