Saturday, October 2, 2010

Golden Blood

As I sat at the blood donation center a few weeks ago, filling out the form that asks a hundred questions about  risk factors, I looked around at the other people who were doing the same.  One woman came at the same time as I did.  We parked next to each other.  She got out of her car slowly.  I guessed her age to be in her early 60's.  As she walked slowly (seemingly in pain) to the door of the center, I noticed a cup in her hand--McDonald's coffee.  I wondered what she was answering on her form.  Across the sitting area from me was a man, probably in his late 40's or early 50's.  He was quite large around the middle.  Fifteen minutes later, I was set up on a recliner to have the blood drained from my arm.   Across the room was the Mc'Donald's lady and already being drained was another woman, probably in her 50's.  She looked healthy enough, but I still thought to myself, my blood must be healthier than these peoples'.  That may sound snobby, and I suppose it is, but I know I'm not average in the way I eat and take care of my health.  The average person eats too much sugar, artificial flavors and colors, preservatives, trans fats, and other food that isn't organic.  The average person is inactive and overweight by at least a few pounds.  And as much as I've dedicated my days to pointing this out to people who know this isn't good for them, there are still millions of more people who are going about their lives not giving it a second thought.  And some of those people give blood. 

You are what you eat.  Literally.  If you haven't really thought about it before, consider this.  Whatever we eat gets broken down by our miraculous body into all of its nutrients, vitamins and minerals.   As David Katz, M.D. explains, "The nutritional content of what we eat determines the composition of our cell membranes, bone marrow, blood, and hormones. Consider that the average adult loses roughly 300 billion cells to old age every day and must replace them. Our bodies are literally manufactured out of the food we consume."  Scientists and doctors don't even know the half of it as to what our bodies do with all the phytonutrients and vitamins that we ingest.  Probably some really amazing things. 

So, considering what I eat on a regular basis, my blood is made up of some really good stuff.  The majority of my diet is fruits and vegetables.  I stay away from all artificial ingredients and chemicals and I eat very little refined sugar.  My blood tests are stellar.  My antioxidant levels are almost off the charts.  I've worked hard to get here--I'm banking on having a very long and productive life.  So, if you were the one who was receiving blood, wouldn't you want mine?  If you had the choice between mine and the McDonald's lady, whose would you choose?

But people don't get the choice, of course.  Of course they test it for disease or infectious agents.  But they don't test it for its quality, or its antioxidant levels.  This made me think, shouldn't my blood, in a sense, be more valuable than the McDonald's lady's?  Shouldn't there be levels of healthfulness, where blood like mine would go to an infant holding on to her last breath getting a blood transfusion while the McDonald's lady's goes to a adult junkie who needs a transfusion for anemia because of his unhealthy lifestyle?  I imagine graded donation centers where you go according to your healthfulness.

I'll put that image into the collection of other images of a healthier world that I store in the back of my mind.   And for now, I'll just give my blood, knowing someone somewhere is getting the gold standard and I'll assume that person really needs it.  It was meant to be.  But that won't stop me from asking the phlebotomist next time about blood quality, even though I already know the answer.

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