Today while giving blood, the technician informed me my blood was “CMV-free”. I inquired as to what this meant, and why they were so excited about it. CMV, otherwise known as Cytomegalovirus, is present in 80-85% of the population over the age of 35. It is similar to mono, in that it’s transmitted through bodily fluids (spit, etc.). Blood with CMV cannot be used safely for newborns and those born prematurely. This means my blood is considerably rare (I’m also O positive), and gets tagged for use with babies. If my chastity has saved the life of one baby, it’s been worth it.
During this time of giving, I’d like to urge you to consider becoming a blood donor. According to the Red Cross, only 5% of eligible donors actually drop a pint. I know from having been the coordinator of blood drives in college and at my first high school that many don’t give for fear of needles. Man up! Do you really think a fear of needles is justification enough to let someone die?
Other statistics of concern:
- The average age of blood donors is increasing, and as the elderly die or are prevented from continuing their gift, the deficit of younger donors has increasingly grave effects. Some sources claim less than 7% of blood donors are under 35 years of age (one reason CMV blood is so rare).
- Positive health benefits have been associated with blood donation. Donation reduces iron content in the body, and has been linked with a reduction in heart disease among male donors and postmenopausal women (remember that heart disease is the number one cause of death in males) . Additionally, every donation is like a mini-physical, checking you for a broad range of medical risks.
- Five million people in the US require blood transfusions annually, and that number is growing by nearly 9% a year. The demand already exceeds the supply.
- One in four of us will require a blood transfusion within our lifetime, whether due to accident, surgery, or cancer treatment.
- One pint of blood can be used to save up to three lives!
- You can get free t-shirts and food. I’ve got two drawers full of blood-drive shirts.
These are just some of the many reasons to give blood. Finding out you’ve been saving babies can really make your day!