If my scared roommate can do it, anyone can give blood

Beth Rankin

My roommate Andrew is deathly afraid of needles. And violence. And most insects. And Tom Waits albums.

But I digress. Andrew is absolutely petrified of the small, sharp skin-puncturing tools used to draw blood or insert certain substances. So when I burst into one of his staff meetings last week and yelled, “Andrew, let’s go give blood!” I wasn’t too surprised to see all the blood in question drain from his terrified face.

Like most people, I was taken aback by the atrocities of Hurricane Katrina. And like most college students, I lacked the resources or flexibility to donate money or leave the area to go help storm victims. So I decided to save one to three lives by taking one in the arm.

And as a testament to my taste in people, three other friends of mine were down for the challenge as well. Andrew, however, just looked petrified.

Which is why, as we headed out the door on our way to the Summit County Red Cross that Friday, I was quite surprised when Andrew grabbed my arm and said, “Let’s go give blood!”

So the five of us jumped into my Ford Focus and jetted across Route 76, where we spent the time in the waiting room of the Red Cross trying to keep Andrew from turning into a puddle ala Alex Mack. Three of us, myself included, had never before given blood.

Aside from my significant other, who has given blood about as many times as he’s filled up his car with gas, I was the gung-ho gal who rallied the troops and felt confident that it would neither hurt nor injure me in any way.

As we went through the pre-donation procedures, it was not hard to see the fear in Andrew’s eyes. As he sat in the chair across from me, his foot twitched nervously as it does so often while he is watching horror movies, during which he always asks me to hold his hand, and during which I also tell him to get his dirty mitts off mine.

“Andrew, want me to hold your hand?” I asked, still picking at the bandage on my freshly drawn arm.

“No, I’m fine,” he replied as the nurse slathered his arm with iodine. Fine? I thought. He doesn’t even want me to hold his hand?

And as the rest of us watched from the cookie table, poking each other’s bandages and seeing who could eat the most packages of Chips Ahoy, we watched Andrew save lives without so much as flinching. Afterwards, as he sat next to us enjoying his apple juice and chocolate chip cookies, he nonchalantly mention that, “That wasn’t bad at all.”

So, the moral of the story is this: If Andrew can do it, anyone can (excluding those of you who don’t fit the requirements for donating). And not only did Andrew do it, he did it all with a stoic sense of duty and altruism that surpassed any pinch felt by a needle.

So suck it up, folks. Make an appointment at the Portage County Red Cross (330-296-9991) and save up to three lives just by lounging in a chair watching daytime dramas and even enjoying free cookies and juice. My roommate has proven to the world that the excuse of, “I’m scared it will hurt!” just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Beth Rankin is a junior newspaper journalism major and the assistant managing editor/Web for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].