The Gift of Life

“The gift of life.”

You hear that phrase a lot, especially surrounding major tragedies and catastrophes. But what does it mean, really? I’m still not 100% I can fully comprehend the magnitude of donating blood. After all, I’ve only done it twice.

After 9/11 there was a major call for blood donations around the country. I was 21 at the time – fully old enough to donate. I didn’t comprehend it at the time. I knew people living in New York at the time (who were thankfully safe), but I didn’t stand in the lines for hours on end in – what even in September is still – the dead of summer here in Florida. Looking back I wish I had. I wish I had been mature enough to give the gift of life.

In the almost 15 years since then, there have been numerous reasons to donate blood. Yet I had never taken the time to do so. Then the shootings at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando happened and it broke my heart. I went to college in Orlando. I’m a proud Knight from the University of Central Florida. I never lived in Orlando; I only commuted to my few classes I had to take on the main campus, but my connection is strong. I am also a proud supporter of the LGBTQ community. Most of my favorite people in this whole world identify somewhere on the rainbow. They are the family I chose for myself – and they are the family who chose me.

What does that have to do with donating blood, you ask? You see, the week following that shooting, where 49 people lost their lives and numerous more were injured – some very seriously – my husband and I donated blood for the very first time. My adopted home of Orlando had been attacked. Extended members of my adopted family had been attacked. I may have been safely tucked away in my bed, several hours away, but I felt like I had been attacked.

I know my very first donation went directly to Orlando, my adopted home, to help save the lives of those who were fortunate enough to survive.

Yesterday on my lunch break, I donated my second unit of blood. This time my gift of life will likely stay closer to home and help someone in my immediate community.

Have you given the gift of life? Are you close to your next big donation milestone? Will my brief story help convince you to give the gift of life?

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