Blood donations are important all year long, but during the summer months, many hospitals and clinics will ramp up their call to action to acquire more blood. They rely on volunteers at these events for recruitment, taking information and for directing people where to go. It is the responsibility of volunteers to keep the event running smoothly. This means interacting with those who are donating blood, and interacting with those who do not give their blood. Yes, those running the blood drive should be kind to those giving blood and the benefits they receive are well deserved, but those who cannot donate deserve kindness as well. Targeting an audience with the promise of free coffee or t-shirts, or both is a great incentive to draw people to donate blood, but do not forget to be kind.
Be mindful of those who are unable to donate. There are many reasons someone cannot donate blood. Sometimes it is a simple cold that keeps someone from donating their blood, while for others they will never be healthy enough under the standards detailing who can give blood.
For example, traveling to certain destinations or being on certain medications will earn a person a temporary deferral. Once the date has passed, they will be able to donate blood. Any travel outside of the United States and Canada will be reviewed. Typically, there is a waiting period of 12 months after returning from a trip where Malaria is prevalent. If a potential donor lived in an area where Malaria is found for five or more years then they must wait three years from the date of returning to the U.S. to be able to donate again. Donors may show up to give blood without knowing these rules. They deserve kindness and respect for showing up and making the attempt.
There are other reasons someone may not be able to give blood. A person suffering from iron deficiency or anemia will never be able to give blood. This person’s hemoglobin count will always be below the required 12.5 g/dL – anything under 12 g/dL is considered iron deficient. At that point, only a doctor can determine which type of anemia someone may have. Volunteers and professionals running blood donation centers should target people who are anemic or who might have certain forms of cancer with kindness. These people would most likely be willing to donate, and thus do not deserve the look that implies they are not good citizens.
Many times these people volunteer in other capacities in their communities, or they may even be volunteers at the blood drive. Either way they are not bad citizens refusing to help others in need.
Blood donation is a vital part of any healthcare facility. Without blood donors many other patients would die. Those that are unable to donate sometimes feel as though they are being judged – that all the other good things they do in their lives are not enough – because they are unable to donate blood. Remember, it is not always a choice. Travel, disease, illness and more can cause someone to not be able to donate blood. Some will be able to come back later, but others will never be able to. Each blood donor and/or attempted blood donor should still be treated with kindness and respect, which should be a key component in the targeted volunteer job description.
By Sara Kourtsounis