Saying No to Saving a Life

Saying No to Saving a Life


People have asked me, "What's the hardest thing you've put on your bucket list?" Well...hardest can be interpreted in different ways and every item has their own challenge associated with it, but if I had to pick it would be "62. Save a life." I had no idea how I was going to do it or when I'd know that I did it, but I put it on the list. People asked me if donating blood counted as saving a life--and while life saving transfusions happen every day, I didn't consider the times I've donated blood as "saving a life". I'm not discounting the value and importance (and need), but to me, it was something that was a no-brainer. If I have something that will save someone's life, especially if there's no (or minimal) harm to me in giving it, why wouldn't I? If anything, blood donation became a mini challenge in the office and we'd see who had the fastest times.

When I think about saving a life, I thought maybe I'd come across someone who needs medical attention and I'd use the skills I picked up years ago in my CPR certification and EMT-B class and put them to use. (Note: I took those classes a long time ago and my license is expired but the basic life saving skills that you learn, for the most part, stay the same.) When I was taking my CPR class, the instructor said something to me that's stuck with me: "By taking this class, you are volunteering to help other people. By taking this class, you are already more qualified than other people to deal with an emergency. If you're not going to use them when the time comes, you shouldn't be taking this class." And I couldn't agree more.

Originally, I signed up to get my EMT-B license because I had some free time on my hands during an internship. The motivation behind this specific class was that I was gaining lifelong skills. If something (heaven forbid, knock on wood), happened to someone I love, I'd want to be empowered to help them. After taking the class, I took out the "someone I love" because lifesaving skills should help anyone whose life you can save.

Then why is it that people don't spring into action or help, when they can? Especially when their help can make the difference between having a future or saying goodbye to life as you know it today? That, I don't really get.

I don't remember how or when exactly (I know it was in college) that I learned about The National Marrow Registry but I do remember that I didn't hesitate for a moment to swab my cheek and send it in. Maybe it was all of the Lurlene McDaniel books I read as a kid--I felt like I related to the characters and wanted to help save them!-- or maybe it was because my grandmother had lymphoma or maybe it was because I just knew it was the right thing to do. That's why it breaks my heart to read about stories like Ekata's where she's had not 1, not 2 but 3 matches, but they've all declined to donate. Declined to give her another chance at life. Declined to save her life. If you were going to say no, why register in the first place? Usually, I'm really good about seeing other perspectives and sides of stories, but in this case, I really don't think there's any reason that would justify it. (For the record, the bone marrow donation process is an outpatient procedure and relatively painless as there have been major technology advances -- check out the second video to learn more.)

But we can't let the negative weigh us down, right? We can't let false hope outshine real hope. Support that hope and make someone stronger. Who knows, you could be the match that someone has been looking for.

P.S. I did end up checking #62 off my list last January, but this is a bucket list item that I'd happily do over and over and over again.

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