I vaant to saave a liife.
Giving blood is one of the all-time greats of do-gooding but it seems somehow neglected, somehow unfashionable. Perhaps the offer of free tea and biscuits no longer packs them into town halls and health centres the way it once did. Frumpy image aside, it’s one of the best things we can do: Literally giving a bit of ourselves to a stranger, helping people we’ll never meet, never knowing what good we might have done. Maybe saving a life. Maybe a bunch of lives.
Donated blood is for more than just topping up bodies that have leaked during accidents. The National Blood Service says although they do use it for blood loss, obvs, it’s more often separated into individual components: red cells are used in the treatment of anaemia and to replace lost red cells after childbirth, surgery or accidents (such as the loss of a toe, knee, hand or cock); platelets are used in cases of bone marrow failure, post-transplant treatments, chemotherapy and treatments for leukaemia; plasma is used for cardiac surgery, starships and to replace clotting factors; processed plasma is used to treat haemophilia, tetanus, hepatitis, chickenpox and rabies; the albumin in plasma is beneficial for burns victims. And blood donors don’t just save lives; they can improve the lives of people who can’t be saved: A blood transfusion can give a better quality of life to a terminally ill person in their final months. It is, we’re agreed, one of the all-time greats.
And yet we don’t bother with it much. Blood stock levels forever seem to be lower than they should be, complicated somewhat by a short shelf life. Donor services are keen on regular, reliable donors they can count on to give a few times a year, leaving us with a fairly simple choice: We can save lives or not bother. Lucky for them we’re among the world’s best people.
Not everyone can give, of course. In the UK you have to be over 17 years old, weigh more than 50kg, be free from colds, coughs and cold sores, be unpregnant, off antibiotics, and free from the obvious stuff like HIV and hepatitis. (Full disclosure: I’m banned for life). To run through the requirements, find your nearest clinic or book a workplace session you should visit NHS England, NHS Scotland, the Welsh Blood Service or the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service depending on how English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish you are. In Americee you can give via the American Red Cross. And elsewhere in the world you can use your preferred search engine because I can’t be arsed finding 195 different links for you.
Then go give blood, feel smug and get a cup of tea and a biscuit. Nothing fancy, mind; we’re talking rich teas or digestives here. It’s more about the good deed than the reward, although you might get a custard cream if you’re lucky. I’d say anything above a Jammie Dodger is out.
People will get to live
And you'll get a biscuit!
Photo credit: The Zero
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Like most of you, when I first saw WALL-E I assumed it was a documentary and was relieved to find we had at last discovered a solution to the madness of short-term landfillery. However, on attempting to contact and marry EVA, Pixar security guards informed me not just that I would be charged with breach of the peace but also that the film was a work of speculative fiction.
Devoted as you are to yer man The Zero, and as closely as you monitor my good works, you’ll be aware I do the odd bit of fundraising in spite of hating it almost completely. The past few years I’ve been meddling with Yaknak Projects, a small charity set up by a few friends to run two children’s home in Nepal. They need £16,000 a year to keep the homes running, a delightful spot of constant pressure that cheers them greatly.
As you’d expect from a man in my position, I have literally thousands of children. The groupies that gather at the foot of Zero Towers are as fertile as they are up for it, and the rise of my master race is progressing nicely. Sadly, due to the sheer size of my collective progeny, all of whom are disabled rad-fems, I am unable to support any of them financially or emotionally, thus creating twice as many social problems as I was hoping to solve.
So there I was a few weekends back, minding me own business, spending a reasonably pleasant day in the company of friends, or at least people paid to be friendly towards me on account of how my fame prevents anyone getting too close, when I witnessed what can only be described as a road traffic accident, being as how it was an accident involving traffic that took place on a road. I won’t lie to you: it was full on proper scary.
With the Olympics all done with and the Paralympics prepping itself for interest considerably less feigned than usual, it’s time to reflect on the heroes at whom we marvel, the champions who capture our hearts, the icons who inspire a generation. Jessica Ennis. Usain Bolt. Me.
That whooshing sound round the back of your head was February going past us and past me and past this blog in particular. Being as how I’m spending my days chained to the desk writing essays and my nights chained to the desk drooling on them, the old do-gooding has taken a back seat of late. Unless you count the social work. Which no one does. Tell people you want to be a social worker, they make like you’ve offered them a glass of cancer flavoured piss.
The problem with this social work lark is although I’m getting stuck in to solid gold do-gooding on a daily basis, the confidential nature of it all means it ain’t worth shit for blogging. I go out, I do good, I come home, I write essays, I use every drop of energy and I’ve got on non-blogging activities and meanwhile this place gets neglected and cobwebbed and dusty and forgotten, going all potty and Miss Havisham and playing bridge with Buster Keaton.
You’ll recall how last year I finally worked up enough balls to give up a safe job in the middle of recession and go back to uni. And how I’m now training as a social worker, taking my meddler status from amateur to professional. You’ll recall all of this because you are, in the act of reading this blog, engaging in the last legal form of stalking. You’re watching me from afar, waiting for the right moment to ask for an autograph, tell me you’re my biggest fan, or take me to your underground den of torture and have me as your bride.
They say the word ‘hero’ is overused these days, applied to anyone who kicks a ball into a net or resists the metric system or rescues orphans from a burning paedophile ring. But I’d argue in some cases the word ‘hero’ is not used enough. I’m thinking particularly here in the case of me.