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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The thing with this do-gooding lark is it’s a difficult habit to break. Once you’ve committed to a life of meddling, Butterflying and getting stuck in there’s no backing down, no slacking off, no chance of respite or downtime. So although I’ve been on holiday for a couple of weeks and not actively Zeroing, my do-gooding hasn’t let up a bit.
I am not a free man; I am a number
You will recall one of my new year’s resolutions was to run a 10K for charity, an effort of such clichéd lameness I may as well have joined Weight Watchers while downing a pack of Jammie Dodgers. Since then I have been absolutely bombarded by one request for an update, and only a fool would deny the wishes of his entire audience.
The running man
And so to new year resolutions, a pointless exercise given my current greatness but one I dabble in for the sake of my inferiors and their fully justified inferiority complexes. The challenge here is to find some tiny improvement I can make somewhere. After all, even history’s great humans have had to tweak the odd thing here and there. Rumour has it every January Ghandi would make a fresh effort to cut down on crack.
Social networking not working
One of the difficulties about this changing the world lark is it’s not really on me to change. I’ve already ascended to moral perfectuality, leaving you and others in an ethical gutter like the thoughtless wasters you are. It’s all about getting you to catch up now, inspiring you to positive change by slagging you off and calling you gutter-dwelling thoughtless wasters.
And so the call goes out: Meddle
Life is all about the meddling. It’s all about the getting stuck in and the not just standing by murmuring to yourself about how things shouldn’t be like this and how if only someone would do something maybe things would be etc. If Zeroism is about anything – and it isn’t – it’s about how we have to be the stucker inners.
The foul stench of failure: closely resembles worm poop
And so to the latest adventures with the wormery. You’ll recall how in the absence of a garden I couldn’t get a composter and how I’d gone for an indoor wormery that would turn worms into my slaves, forcing them to eat my scraps and poop out a rich, nourishing compost. It’s not been the most successful of my many successful successes.
Left cheek unused in uncharacteristically weak effort
It can be hard at times, fitting Zeroism into a busy life. Turns out this whole masters thing is less about watching Supermarket Sweep and more about reading every word ever written about social work. Meanwhile the world’s missed out on a blog entry and my usual epic do-gooding, delaying the revolution for 7 days and putting us back to October 2014. But while changing the world from the confines of the library is not without its challenges, it can be done. I’ve spent the week signing online petitions.
The whole point of this Zero lark is that with a little bit of thought we can do good in whatever we happen to be doing, be it eating a banana (Fairtrade/organic), eating veal (not doing) or embezzling funds from a Lebanese orphanage (carbon offsetting your extradition flight). And so it is for yer man today as he starts back at university.
(Blank) sweat and tears
We find ourselves in the middle of National Blood Donor Week and it’s given me an idea:
Instead of always referring to seven consecutive days commencing with Monday and ending with Sunday as ‘seven consecutive days commencing with Monday and ending with Sunday’ I’m going to start calling that period of time ‘a week’. That’s what I’ve been doing this week and so far it’s been going down pretty well.