Buddy, Can You Spare a Pint (of Blood) for Aplastic Anemia?

I donate blood whenever I can. Is it a fun-time activity? Nope.

Let’s face it: Nobody likes to get stuck with a needle. So why do I bother? I donate because other people’s lives may depend upon it.

Over the years, several members of my family have received emergency blood transfusions that were lifesaving. If not for the selflessness of strangers who rolled up their sleeves, there would have been a few holes in my family tree. Whenever a friend or family member is scheduled for surgery, I donate–not that my blood would be used for them, but because I want to pay it forward.

People with conditions such as aplastic anemia are especially dependent on human blood products.

In fact, one woman with aplastic anemia has been encouraging people in her area to donate blood. Blood infusions aren’t just for emergencies. She needs them twice a week.

If you donate through the Red Cross, you’ll get a mini-physical thrown in for free. They will check your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, body temperature, and hemoglobin. You’ll also get a sweet snack or drink before you leave the donation facility.

There are a couple of things you need to bring to your appointment: a photo ID and a list of the medications you take. Make sure you have a healthy meal ahead of time!

Red Cross staff will:

  • Sign you in and review basic eligibility and donation information
  • Provide you with information about donating blood
  • View your photo ID
  • Ask you a few questions during a private, confidential interview about your health history
  • Ask you about the places to which you’ve traveled

Once you’ve been cleared for donating, the process takes about 8 to 10 minutes. Red Cross staff and volunteers will be available to answer any questions you may have. If you are donating platelets, red blood cells, or plasma, the process can take up to two hours.

Even if you cannot donate your own blood, you can help organize a blood drive through the Red Cross. Places like VFW halls, churches, and corporations are usually more than happy to help. If that sounds like something you’d like to do, contact the

If that sounds like something you’d like to do, contact the Red Cross. To find the local Red Cross chapter closest to where you live, click here.

Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn is passionate about raising awareness of rare diseases and disorders and helping people connect with the resources that may ease their journey. Erica has been a caregiver, and is a patient, herself, so she completely relates to the rare disease community--on a deeply personal level.

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