By: Revanche

Bleeding for a cause

March 25, 2013

Needle aversion notwithstanding, I’ve had a long-running desire to give blood.  For science?

Maybe it’s the one thing I want to do to fit in because a) Lord knows I don’t care that I don’t “fit in” anywhere else; b) it feels chumpish not to when just about everyone I know can.

Maybe it’s because these past several years, I’ve lost so many dear family and friends to dementia, cancer, heart disease, accidents and medical complications and there was never a damn thing I could do about it. “Helpless” is not a mode I play well on. So maybe giving something of myself, literally, seems to be the only thing that feels like a tangible help.

Sadly, it’s been years since I discovered that the blood bank was serious about their weight limit. And that none of my friends were willing to go along with an illicit donation – they don’t actually weigh you, after all. Apparently friends think that giving that much blood for my body weight would be a problem. Even arguing that some blood draws ordered by the doctor took at least half a pint or more didn’t convince anyone and PiC would just give me The Look.  I remain unconvinced that it would be a problem. “What’s the worst that could happen?” occurs to me but I’m not totally willing to risk it alone in case I do pass out… or whatever.

Blood donation drives: the one time my weight makes me feel totally worthless. Dammit.

Then I got to thinking that…

Be the Match blood marrow donations would be a Good Thing: no weight requirement and Asian donors are lacking in the registry. Let me try to Be A Match!

But guess what? Too defective for that.    ><

It feels like I’m standing outside banging on the window of society. Hullooo!  Have I got today’s leprosy? Grump.

Mid-month I finally decided it was time to chop off the hair.

Tired of sitting on it, and tired of shedding a mini-me every day, I crowdsourced my new style and headed off to the salon.

@PhysicistLisa asked if I meant to donate it since I mentioned a specific length. Ah-ha! Yes indeed! It was quite long enough for that! And I never dye my hair or anything so it’s in good shape. WHEE. Even the shortest layers were about 8 inches, the longest layers measured 12 inches. And that was with the lady cutting a less generous length because she didn’t believe how short I wanted to go.

All that was left was to decide where to send it. I hadn’t made time to research the various possible organizations when this lovely post from A Practical Wedding’s team popped up: Pantene Beautiful Lengths it is!

They only accept the hair they can use with clear instructions on what that is, they give the wigs away to cancer patients and they don’t sell your hair. This is important to me.

The donation lifts a pall over my heart. I haven’t had short hair since I lived with and helped my parents directly, since I still had a mom, our last time together was when it was long, at the courthouse. Cutting it, though I’ve never been attached to hair for appearances’ sake, was a reminder of all this. But this feels right.

And since my recent changes in banking yielded a new set of checks sent in a plastic envelope actually intended for reuse, the stars were clearly aligned. The envelope’s packed, addressed and ready to mail. I’m excited. I’m finally good for something. 🙂

Can you donate blood? Are you registered for the marrow registry? (Or can you be?) Would you donate your hair if it was long enough?

13 Responses to “Bleeding for a cause”

  1. eemusings says:

    No – I don’t weigh enough, though I haven’t checked in about a year so I think I MIGHT finally have passed the tipping point? Pretty sure my pants are a bit tighter these days.

    I actually didn’t really know there was a marrow registry. Hmm.

    Would LOVE to donate my hair; it seems such a waste (do salons compost hair? Or just throw it away?) Thing is, I HATE having long hair, so I never grow it out very long. I like it about shoulder length.

    • Revanche says:

      D’you know, I have the tight pants problem too? But still nowhere near.

      I wonder if the marrow registry isn’t international? I hadn’t looked into that.

      I assumed that salons usually just throw away hair …

  2. mochimac says:

    I cut my hair off twice to donate 13″ when I was younger and during college.

    Why not?

    As for blood donation I don’t weigh enough. I am toeing the line at 110 lbs..

  3. I did donate my hair when I had it cut short. It was about 12 or 14 inches long, blunt-cut so it was all about that length.

    Think they won’t take your blood if you take a lot of allergy pills, pain-killers and assorted meds. So that would presumably disqualify moi.

    • Revanche says:

      You’re probably right about the meds thing, I didn’t spot it on the list but the underlying causes are probably enough.

  4. I wanted to donate to Beautiful Lengths when I got my hair cut back in November, but I was cutting juuuuust a little too little off. Actually, it probably would have been okay, but my hairdresser and I measured it and weren’t sure we’d end up with the cut I wanted if she went that short. Ah well. I always wanted to do Locks of Love when I was a kid, but my hair is SO thick that once it starts getting too far past shoulder length it’s just too heavy. I’ve never been brave enough to go super short, so no hair donation for me.

    I AM able to donate blood, though, and do so regularly. I’m lucky enough that I feel pretty okay after, so it’s really just a short period of discomfort and a little sleepiness the rest of the day.

    I know time is at a premium for you, but a thought- one of my friends who can’t donate volunteers for our local blood bank, filing papers and sending stuff out and answering questions and stuff. He says they really do need people to do this stuff (around here, anyway), so if you ever feel like you DO have a little time, it might be a way to help the cause 🙂

    • Revanche says:

      Oh I very much understand the discomfort of too-long hair. I actually wasn’t enjoying my mane but it’s just easier for me to ignore (it’s sort of thin?)

      I don’t know how much long Beautiful Lengths and Locks of Love want but I liked that Pantene only wanted 8 inches so that helps too.

      That’s a great idea about doing adminny things for the blood bank, thanks for mentioning it! I didn’t really think of it.

  5. spiffi says:

    I donated blood when I was in college – after giving blood, and resting, and eating my cookie and drinking my juice, I walked across the courtyard and went to the restroom. While in the stall, I blacked out – twice! Walked back to the blood drive people, and said “I don’t feel well” and they made me lie down again – apparently I was grey 🙂 Moral of the story – eat lunch FIRST, then give blood!

    Nowadays, I’m iron-deficient, so whenever I try, they test me, and deny me.

    I’ve never let my hair grow long enough before I get annoyed with it and cut it all off, so I’ve never had long enough hair to donate. I knew a guy with *gorgeous* naturally curly red hair – he grew it out to be about 20 inches long, then cut it all off and donated it. Whoever got that, was thrilled, I am sure!

    • Revanche says:

      Wow! A friend has ended up with a half-arm sized hematoma but I don’t think I knew anyone who had a reaction like yours! Prescribe more cookies after, too! 🙂 Well, assuming you weren’t iron deficient.
      I often wonder how easy it is to make a wig out of curly hair, it looks amazing.

  6. Lauren says:

    I started growing my hair out in senior year of high school and donated it for the first time my freshman year of college. It started a cycle that I have continued now a total of four times since then. I feel similarly, always wanted to donate or help in some way but had small veins/anemia etc. and was never a good blood donor. I have stick straight hair and have never done anything more with it than run a brush through it every morning. Donating it allows me some direction or path in dealing with this stuff growing out of my head. I really couldn’t care less (maybe because I have it so easy relative to those with curly/time consuming hair?)… otherwise I would have no idea what to do with it. The shortness and the length (I can usually only stand getting it to the middle of my back before it starts driving me insane) also at least make me feel like I’m not looking “the same” all the time. One time I shaved it which was an interesting experience for sure 🙂

  7. Mary says:

    I always think it is sad when those [usually women] want to donate blood and can’t because of their weight. I think it is just a safety factor regarding how quickly blood restores itself and past experience with smaller people taking much longer to replinish the lost blood. Perhaps you could give platlets, although that may have the same restrictions.
    On a personal level, I think a willingness to donate is the most important thing. When someone is willing to donate, but is unable to their attitude alone can encourage others who might not to decide to donate. Please, do not think less of yourself because the rules deny you that opportunity.

  8. They keep saying no to me for the past year! My hemoglobin levels are too low. They say it’s likely stress and lack of sleep when I was in school. 🙁 I’m now taking a break from trying to donate and will do so in May.

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