Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Life Blood

The late teen years are full of milestones and rites of passage. Sometimes we don't even recognize them as such. I'm blessed with the opportunity to both live with and work with high school age kids. Sometimes they seem so clueless; other times they spout the wisdom of those way beyond their years.

Last night.
16 year old son, Charles:
"Mom, could you sign this form allowing me to give blood tomorrow at school?"

Mom (me):
"Why? Why now?"

"I've always wanted to do this. I just think it's time."

So I signed on the dotted line. He gave blood during third period.

According to my baby boy (all 6 ft. 1 inches and 200 lbs. of him), passing out on the way OUT of the bloodmobile wasn't as bad as he thought. The attendants recognized the look immediately and sat him in a wheelchair before he could hit the concrete. They gave him more Powerade and other sugar filled food and within a few minutes he looked less ghost-like.

Part of this was my fault. I didn't make sure he ate a good breakfast this morning and I didn't warn him about the perils of donating blood. But that wasn't the only surprise.

"They asked me really weird questions," he told me later. "I can't even bring myself to tell you."

"You mean they asked you about your sexual activity," I said. I've given blood before, so I knew.

"Yeah," he said suddenly relieved. "They asked for all the way back to 1998! What are they thinking?" Charles was 7 in 1998.

"It's the law. They have to. Since the outbreak of AIDS and HIV they have to be careful."

"But what if people lie?" he asked. "People's lives are on the line."

They are indeed.

Blood is life. Giving blood gives life.

For more information on donating blood in your area, check out the American Red Cross. On this September 11 look for ways to give life to those you know, and those you don't know.