This week I reached a milestone that I am particularly proud of. I attended the local Blood Donor centre for my 50th donation.
On and off for over 30 years I have been a donor, starting with giving some of my A+ blood (the same type as roughly 31% of the population) every 3 months, but in the past number of years I have swapped to plasma which I am able to give every 2-3 weeks. It takes a bit longer, but seems to suit me better in the days that follow.
I started giving blood with my dad who was the rarer blood type of A- (about 7% of population) and who was really diligent in offering his life-saving blood, plasma or platelets whenever he was asked. He just wanted to help and taught me that it was a minor inconvenience that could bring significant advantage to others who were facing a health crisis.
He had really good veins and when we donated together we learned that I needed to be seen first, because I am a slower bleeder. Even then, he would often be waiting for me in the refreshments area until I had finished. That’s one of the good things of being a donor – it is recommended you spend a little time indulging in the free refreshments provided to ensure that you have a little recovery time before you head back out into the world.
Things have changed dramatically since I started donating. I now book my appointments via an app and can see just how many donations I have given. I was quite excited as my 50th donation approached. I wasn’t exactly sure what I expected, but I can honestly say I was relatively underwhelmed.
Not a single staff member mentioned that it was my big 5-0, despite the number of donations being a part of my documentation that follows me at each stage of the process. There was no hoopla or celebration. I was prepared to be humble in accepting their gratitude for my generosity and persistence, but none were forthcoming.
Part way through this donation, as I was starting to feel frustration building within me, I realised I needed to recalibrate my attitude. Why, after all, was I donating in the first place? Was it the free snacks and wifi and potential accolades, or was it to be a part of the healing journey for people I will never meet? Of course it is the latter, and so I stopped focussing on the wrong thing and just relaxed into the comfy chair and continued to read my book.
I have been prompted to think about our innate human need to be acknowledged for good actions and found this verse in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah. It is in chapter 17 and verse 10 where it says, “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” This demonstrates that while I might be doing a good thing, if my heart and mind are not doing it for the right reason I will not be receiving the reward I might believe I am owed by God.
I am really quite glad I was able to check my attitude part way through my donation, and was truly able to enjoy the fact that the act itself was reward enough for me. I write about this today for two reasons, neither of which is about wanting to draw more attention to my donation.
The first reason is to encourage you to think about things you might be hoping to be noticed and rewarded for. As I found, it is easy for our attitude to drift from it’s initial intention. The second reason is to recommend being a blood or plasma donor if you aren’t already. It can make such a difference in the lives of others, and yours as well.