Every day in the United States, 38,000 pints of blood are needed. That's a lot of blood. And up until recently, I haven't been able to give blood. But today I did, and I'm very glad I did.
I haven't been able to give blood until recently because I was in Europe, specifically Germany, during the big Mad Cow scare in Britain. Because of that, a moratorium was placed on all blood donors who were in Europe during the 90's. Not that I was sad, mind you, because I'm not very thrilled to have a massive needle stuck in my arm. Still, it's something that is needed, particularly as I have type O blood, which is in great demand.
So I did some checking, and it seems that the moratorium is only permanent if you lived in Great Britain. For Germany, as long as I didn't live there for longer than 5 years (and I was only there a little under 2 years), I'm clear to donate blood. So today I went down to the blood bus, filled out the necessary forms, and let them stick me with a needle. Within 6 minutes I was done and ready to get back to work.
Some things that made the experience great for me was being well hydrated. I had done quite a bit of bike riding since Monday, and with the increase in exercise I'd increased my water intake. I rarely drink soda (unless I'm at home, or need a little bit of energy), so it wasn't a problem keeping away from that. And when I say increased my water intake, it was over the course of three days, not just the morning before I got stuck, so I was well hydrated. As such I didn't even feel light-headed when I stood up.
But the best thing about giving blood today was the coupon for a free pint of ice cream from Baskin Robbins, which I am sure will be a hit with the family. Not only do I get to do my part to save a life, but I get to enjoy free ice cream. That's just awesome.