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An Itty Bitty Pint Of Blood

Story ID:6770
Written by:Nancy J. Kopp (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Normal IL USA
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An Itty-bitty Pint of Blood

When I read recently that January is National Blood Donor month, I smiled at the memory of something that occurred in my college years, the late fifties.

My dorm had a large bulletin board in the reception area, which I checked every day. One day, there was a colorful poster asking for blood donors. A young cousin of one of our dorm residents had leukemia, which created the need for many blood transfusions. The family sought donors to replace the blood that the little boy had used and to build up a supply for possible need later.
Learning about the need to help a seriously ill child touched my heart and I knew it would many others, as well. In an instant,I decided to donate the next day. I raced upstairs to the lounge to recruit others for the project.

They all agreed in the twinkling of an eye. All, that is, but one. “I’m not going to do it,” Jane said. She crossed her arms and scowled at me.

“But why?” I asked her. “It’s no big deal, and you’d be helping a family who is going through a serious situation. What are you afraid of?”

She stared straight ahead and remained silent.

I persisted. “Your body makes more blood, you know. It’s not gone forever.”

We bickered back and forth through dinner. It irritated me that this girl would be so obstinate over something so easy to do and not offer a valid reason for her reluctance.

“Nothing is going to happen to you if you give an itty-bitty pint of blood.” I appealed to her for the umpteenth time. “The worst of it will be the tiny little needle prick, and then you won’t feel a thing. They even give you juice and a sandwich when you’re finished.”

In exasperation, I dealt the final, convincing blow. “Don’t be so darned selfish!”

Jane raised both arms to the ceiling and answered in dramatic Bette Davis fashion.. “Alright, alright, I’ll go.”

The next afternoon, I was relieved to see Jane at the door of the donor site. We filled in forms and answered the questions the woman asked. I held my breath when they pricked our fingers to check for anemia, but Jane didn’t flinch. Then I was whisked off one direction and Jane another.Mission accomplished.

I gave my pint of blood and was on my way to the juice and food when I heard a lot of commotion. I noticed a group of people standing in a small circle. One person was kneeling. People talked excitedly. Dashing over, I gasped. There, on the floor,lay my friend Jane, pale as a newly-washed sheet. She’d passed out cold.

I felt awful, guilty and frightened out of my wits.. I didn’t know what to say to her, so I slunk away sheepishly. The words I’m sorry didn’t feel adequate at that moment.

It took a few days before Jane spoke to me again, but when she did, she told me two ladies walked her to a table and gave her juice after she’d come to. One of them said, “This happens occasionally, but certainly not often.” Jane glared at me, then said, “They suggested I do some other kind of community service.”

I knew I shouldn’t have pushed her so hard. The apology I rendered came from my heart, and I made a silent promise to myself that I’d give blood again but I wouldn’t pressure anyone else into doing so. The decisions I’d make would be for me alone. A few weeks later, we were finally able to laugh about that itty-bitty pint of blood.

Published in January 2011 Ozarks' Senior Living