A few years ago, friends of mine asked me if I wanted to join them donating blood. My first reaction was "never done that". But I had to see what it’s all about. And now, after doing some research? I am all for it.
I know this can be a very touchy subject. Especially if you throw organ and bone marrow donation into the mix. But in the end, it's all the same to me.
In essence: with all of these three, you are giving some form of life. And to be honest, it doesn't take that much from you. But let's tackle them one by one.
The Regular: Blood Donation
Based on the German system, a healthy human between 18 and 69, can give blood up to 6 times per year (5 times for women). So every second month or so. But why do it?
For one, you are helping the health care system. I have heard all kinds of arguments against doing so (they are making money with your blood, and similar). But honestly? I don't care. As long as someone gets the blood in the end and it helps in the healing or overcoming of pain and injury? Please use it.
But there is an entirely different set of benefits for myself. Apparently, getting rid of some blood is also reducing the risk of some kinds of cancer, aids in weight loss, and also can prevent hemochromatosis. These sound great but also hard to prove without doing a ton of research. But there are more benefits - much easier to grasp. Donating blood also can help with maintaining a healthy heart and liver, and on top of that, it stimulates blood cell production.
Now, those two? They are the ones that get me back every second month (when I can). Getting some blood out of my system, giving my body the signal to reproduce some. Creating new cells, and rejuvenating my bloodstream sounds really good to me.
So even if you don't believe in the other benefits. Don't care about helping others (where this alone should be reason enough to go). Then why not do it for yourself? I'm going.
Once in a Lifetime: Organ Donor Card
A much more intense subject is organ donation. There are movies about shady practices. People paying to go up the ranks, killing to harvest organs, and the illegal organ market. But all these aside. You are helping someone overcome something that is most definitely a lethal situation.
In Germany, you can only donate organs postmortem. There are exceptions for cases close to family. But in those cases, the organ donor card is not relevant anyway. So as long as you don't have close family who is in need, you'll not get asked to give up some organs for someone (this might be different in other countries). But in the case of my death? I am comfortable knowing that I could still be helpful to someone. It actually makes me feel a bit better about it. Be the changing point in someone's life.
The Rare Occasion: Bone Marrow Donor Registration
The last in the list? Bone Marrow. It's a registration where I had to actually send in some test sticks which carried my DNA. I am registered in a database. And it could happen any day, that I get a call from the DKMS (which is the organization managing the registrations in Germany) and I get asked to come in for some tests to see if I actually am a potential match for someone.
It's a little scary. And as far as I have heard, the process is not the easiest to go through either. But then again; It's the same as before: it's a procedure that will most likely not hurt me in the long run. But it could be life changing for the other human.
And by the way: the chances of being a match are minimal. But that's the reason why it's so important that as many humans as possible get registered. That the possibility of finding a match, when there is a need, is higher.
The Handling of These Topics
Everybody can decide for themselves if they want to: carry the organ donor card, get registered as a bone marrow donor, or go donate blood. And I understand that it's important to be able to voice your own opinion and decide over your own body.
But why is the postmortem organ donation process opt-in? I think it should be opt-out. It can provide a life changing treatment for the patient. And I feel it's not a big thing I am giving up since I don't need my organs anymore. And if you think differently? You can opt-out. But making it opt-in, many people never even think about it. Or they don't carry the donor card everywhere; I certainly forget mine all the time. I don't get it.
So no matter how you stand. What your opinion is. Hopefully, you are thinking about these topics. Maybe do some research for yourself. Even when I don't have a heart breaking story that inspires you to do something. From my point of view, it's about being human. Helping each other.
So what's your opinion on this? How do you feel about blood, organ or bone marrow donation? Please share your insights and stories in the comments. I'm curious.
And I’m pretty sure they are not talking about the 400g you are losing by donating blood. ↩︎
I don't claim to understand all these things. And this post is not intended to be a scientific article. I sourced this from organicfacts.net. Do more research. And if you find something that I missed, or you have a different opinion? Please leave a comment. ↩︎
I have heard that some countries have it this way. And it seems to have a positive effect. ↩︎