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Overcoming Certain Fears in Giving ‘The Gift of Life’

This article was originally published on Clevelandbanner.com


A first-person perspective on donating blood written by Cleveland Daily Banner staff writer Saralyn Norkus, and published on the front page of this newspaper in last Thursday’s edition, perhaps prompted others to follow suit.

We hope it did.

Donating blood through Blood Assurance, or through any such outlet across the nation, obviously is a personal choice.

Regular donors have reasons — some of them based on past experiences — why they give.

Those who do not donate have reasons, as well. Some don’t donate because of a fear of needles or injections, a condition known to medical science as trypanophobia. Some decline based on religious or denominational doctrine. Others choose not to give for reasons all their own, and each should be respected.

There’s also another group ... those who want to donate blood because they understand its importance in saving lives, yet they can’t due to medical reasons that prevent such a gift. For instance:

Some want to donate blood, but they can’t because they too suffer from certain illnesses or diseases that prevent such a gesture.

Some are international travelers (mostly job-related), and their overseas visits put them in lands that are conducive to certain infections that could be transmitted to others through blood.

Some struggle with chronic conditions that disallow a blood donation, like uncontrolled high or low blood pressure, or low iron levels.

Some find themselves within high-risk groups where making a blood donation is both unwise and unsound.

Some already have tested as HIV positive, or have fully blown AIDS, and for these reasons cannot donate.

To those who want to donate, but who physically and medically cannot, their plight is understood. Their willingness to do so, if they were capable, is nonetheless appreciated.

For those who struggle with trypanophobia, or some semblance of it, you are not alone. Here are a few medical facts about the condition, based on information provided by www.healthline.com:

- Approximately 20 percent of the general population has some degree of fear associated with needles and injections.

- As much as 10 percent of people suffer specifically from the condition — although similar disorders include aichmophobia, a fear of sharp or pointed objects; algophobia, a fear of pain; belonephobia, an abnormally intense fear of sharp-pointed objects; enetophoa, a fear of pins; and vaccinophobia, a fear of vaccines and vaccinations.

- Traumatic experiences in childhood often form the foundation of these fears — like seeing older siblings cry when getting their shots.

- Of those who have a fear of needles, at least 20 percent avoid medical treatment as a result.

- The fear of needles is both a learned and an inherited condition. A fairly small number inherit a fear of needles, but most people acquire needle phobia around age 4 to 6.

We mention these fears because they prompted the Norkus perspective in support of Blood Assurance and the blood-donation process. She wrote, “... As I’ve told anyone who’s ever given me a shot, drawn blood or started an IV, my hatred of needles is absolute.”

Yet, after 12 years of eligibility for making a blood donation but not doing it, she faced her own fears and gave it a try.

The young reporter was surprised with its ease, and by the short time it took to complete. For her, the entire process — from start to finish for a whole-blood donation — required about 30 minutes.

That’s not to say all appointments, or drop-in donors, will have the same good fortune. Depending on the number of donors already in the waiting area, and the number of Blood Assurance staff workers on duty at the time, it could take longer. Also, it depends on the type of donation being made: whole blood, plasma or platelets.

Regardless, we hope new donors will make the choice. And, we hope existing donors will stay loyal to their convictions.

To make an appointment through Blood Assurance, call 423-476-3201, or go online at www.bloodassurance.org. Or, just walk in.

The Blood Assurance office in Cleveland is located in the Village Green.

In Norkus’ words, “I urge those who, like me, have never donated before to consider trying it out at least once before completely ruling out blood donation.”

We agree.

And we hope, in fact we pray, your decision will be to make saving a life, by giving the gift of life, a regular part of your life.