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If you had asked me to donate blood a year ago, I would have given a very definite, “No way, not in a million years, nuh-uh, no-sir-ee Bob” answer. It’s not that I had any trouble with giving up blood, it’s just that I, like a majority of the population, do not like needles. They hurt. I still well up when I have to go in for a flu shot. You will never see me with a tattoo.

But in the past year, I learned of several reasons that made me understand why I should donate blood, and why it is so important.

1. It really doesn’t hurt that much. That’s right folks. It wasn’t that bad at all. I went to donate blood at my school, and I sat there waiting for my turn, hands clenched, on the verge of a panic attack. Then, the needle sunk into my arm. It barely registered in my mind that someone had actually just stuck a needle into me. I felt a pinch, then glanced over, and there was a needle in my arm. And that was it. Fifteen minutes later I was done and chowing down on some free food (another added bonus).

2. Now that your needle-phobic mind is cleared, there are actually some really legitimate reasons why you should give up your blood. For one thing, it saves three lives. THREE. The blood that you donate can be divided into four transfusable parts: red cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate. Two or three of these parts are usually found in a pint of donated blood, so this means that each donation can help save up to three lives.

3. Someday, you or someone you love may need blood. Tragic things happen every day, and it can’t hurt to start helping others now in case something were to happen in the future.

4. According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds there is someone who needs blood. People who have sickle cell anemia or cancer need blood. If someone gets into a serious car accident, they may need up to 100 pints of blood.

5. There are actually not enough people donating blood, and the main reason is that people aren’t being asked to donate. They just don’t realize that there is this option out there for them. So please donate. It is a simple way to help someone’s life. I am asking you now. I do suggest going with friends. Often, schools will host blood drives, so try to convince some friends to go with you, which will distract your mind from the needle in your skin. Plus, it will help even more people.

For more information, check out www.redcrossblood.org.

Alissa Roy is a senior at Springville-Griffith Institute.